Procedures Performed for Financial Gain, Not Patient Well-Being
As patients, we rely on medical professionals to make accurate diagnoses, properly perform routine and complex procedures and recommend the diagnostic tests and treatment that we actually need. Unfortunately, some doctors and medical facilities may recommend and perform unnecessary procedures in an attempt to increase income, rather than act in a patient's best interests.
For example, take an article published in the New York Times in August of 2012, regarding claims, investigations and reviews of unnecessary cardiac procedures being performed at hospitals owned by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the largest hospital chain in the U.S. The article mentioned certain facilities in Florida that were under scrutiny for cardiac procedures that may have posed an unnecessary expense and risk to patients who did not require them. Cardiac stents and catheters were specifically mentioned. Both of these are invasive, expensive medical procedures. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami, Florida requested information from 10 of HCA's hospitals, many of which are in Florida. In all, HCA owns 163 hospitals and 110 independent surgical centers in the U.S. and England, making the Nashville-based corporation the largest hospital chain in the U.S.
Financial Losses and Health Hazards: Unnecessary Tests & Procedures
A 2005 report by the National Academy of Sciences uncovered a shocking 30% waste of healthcare spending in the U.S. More recent studies have yielded similar results. This means that as much as $600 to $700 billion dollars may be wasted each year.
In addition to costing patients, insurance companies and Medicare thousands upon thousands of dollars, unnecessary tests and procedures may place patients' lives at risk. Some procedures may be dangerous, and if they are not actually needed, their risks certainly outweigh their benefits. Doctors should consider the patient's well-being, not their own income, as a first priority. Patients should be told about all the risks and benefits associated with any test or procedure in order to make informed choices.
In April of 2012, a coalition of doctors and consumer groups unveiled the "Choosing Wisely" campaign, which aims to help doctors and patients make better decisions about what tests and procedures are actually necessary. The campaign addresses 45 different tests and procedures that may be overused, some of which include:
- X-rays for lower back pain
- Heart screening (stress tests) in healthy patients
- CT scans for appendicitis in children
- Colonoscopies within 10 years of previous procedure
- CT or MRI scans for fainting
- Imaging tests for severe headaches
- Antibiotics for sinusitis (a frequent complication of the common cold)
- Frequent PAP tests in otherwise healthy, low-risk women
These tests may be necessary in some situations, but they should not be performed if there is no real reason. Healthy, low-risk patients may be able to forgo medical tests in certain situations, saving them and their insurance provider a good deal of money and also saving them from unnecessary pain, discomfort or other complications from the tests themselves.
Why are unnecessary procedures performed?
An unnecessary medical procedure or test may be performed for any of a number of reasons, stemming from negligence, fraud or other forms of wrongdoing by healthcare professionals. A doctor may misdiagnose a patient and therefore recommend the wrong procedure. A doctor may misread a test result, mistakenly diagnosing a patient with a serious condition that requires surgery, when the patient may have been helped with medication alone. A medical facility may perform an operation or test that a patient does not actually need, simply in order to increase profits.
In any of the above scenarios, a patient may experience undue physical pain, emotional trauma and financial losses. The attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC are here to help you hold the responsible party or parties accountable.
Contact our New York Medical Malpractice Firm
Headquartered in New York City, our firm represents clients across New York and the entire U.S. We have fully-staffed offices in a number of other states, including Florida, California, Illinois and Michigan, to better serve our clients. Establishing proof that a surgical or other medical procedure was performed unnecessarily is a technical and often difficult matter. It takes a careful investigation and analysis of medical records, interviewing witnesses and development of a strong case based on the evidence at hand. Fortunately, our team is experienced in dealing with specialized medical malpractice claims of this kind, not only because we work with expert witnesses, medical professionals and investigators but because we have firsthand knowledge of these cases. We exclusively represent plaintiffs across the U.S. in medical malpractice and other legal matters and have recovered more than $3 billion in doing so since 2000 alone.