The New York Times recently ran an article entitled, “A Small Town Scarred by a Trusted Doctor.” This article chronicled the story of a cardiology practice in small town Indiana that has not been sued by nearly 300 patients for having performed unnecessary surgeries including stent implantations.
Needless to say 300 medical malpractice lawsuits against one practice is nearly unheard of, however the point of the story is one that we often discuss on this site. Patients need to be their own advocates, both when they are not being treated sufficiently as well as when they are being over-treated.
In the field of cardiology the most common complaints are that doctors unnecessarily performed cardiac catheterizations and stent implantations, procedures which a patient, if told that they are needed, will not generally disregard because of their significant benefits to those who need them. Unfortunately, as the plaintiffs in Indiana allege, the procedures are occasionally being performed by surgeons when they are not entirely necessary, as they represent a strong revenue stream for physician practices and hospitals. This creates, some say, a system whereby a hospital or practice may be disinclined from efforts towards stopping a physician from performing unnecessary surgery, because to do so would be to effectively cut off a source of revenue.
In most cases there are guidelines with respect to when a surgery should be performed. That being the case, it may come as no surprise that investigations have found that the most prescribed procedures are those for which there is the largest amount of discretion.
As a patient you must keep in mind that you need to be your own advocate at all times. If you believe that a surgery recommended by a physician is unnecessary get a second opinion. And if you have questions about a surgery that was already performed or performed poorly give us a call. We're happy to help.