Patients often take a doctor at his or her word – when a doctor recommends a medical procedure, a patient expects that the medical treatment or procedure is necessary. That isn’t always the case, however. In fact, according to a USA Today review of government records and medical databases, unnecessary medical procedures are performed tens of thousands of times every year.
In some cases, the unnecessary medical procedures are the result of fraud or unscrupulous doctors and health care providers. As we recently reported, several doctors, executives, and the owner of Chicago’s Sacred Heart Hospital were arrested and charged with a health care scandal that involved the orchestration of a massive kickback scheme and administering unnecessary medical treatments, including unnecessary tracheotomies that exposed patients to additional risks, further delayed the patient’s recovery, and kept the patients’ in the hospital much longer than necessary.
Other times unnecessary medical treatment is the result of incompetence or inadequate training. A doctor may lack the skill and knowledge to know when a surgical procedure can be avoided in favor of a non-surgical or less-invasive procedure. The USA Today reports that, since 2005, more than 1,000 doctors have made payments to settle surgical malpractice claims that involved allegations of unnecessary or inappropriate procedures. Approximately half of these payments involved allegations of serious permanent injury or death, and many of the cases involved multiple plaintiffs, which suggests that the problem has impacted several hundred, if not thousands, of victims.
USA Today reports that unnecessary surgeries might account for 10% to 20% of all operations in some specialties, including a wide range of cardiac procedures and many types of spinal surgeries. Moreover, knee replacements, hysterectomies, and cesarean sections are among the most common surgical procedures that are performed more often than necessary. A 2011 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that, of 112,000 patients who had an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, 22.5% of the patients presented no medical evidence to support implantation of the device.
Unnecessary medical treatments and procedures, like tracheotomies, MRIs, and CT scans, can exacerbate medical conditions, create new medical risks, and can even result in death. For instance, an unnecessary tracheotomy, like those allegedly performed at Sacred Heart Hospital, can cause severe bleeding, damage to the voice box or esophagus, windpipe damage, bacterial infections, and the inability of the tracheotomy opening to close.
If you have received an unnecessary medical test or procedure, you may want to consult with a medical malpractice attorney like the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Ankin Law Office, LLC. Contact our office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule your free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Illinois unnecessary medical treatment lawyers.