New York City Unnecessary Surgery Lawyer
When it comes to physicians, surgeons are generally considered at the top of the heap in terms of education, training, skill and competence. As a patient with a medical condition but no medical training of your own, if a surgeon tells you that you need surgery, you are probably not likely to question that decision. After all, why would a doctor lie about something so important? That question has many answers. Some doctors simply don’t have the training or experience to know when surgery is necessary or when other non-surgical options might be just as good or better. Others perform surgeries because that is what they are trained to do. And yes, in a not insignificant number of cases, some surgeons do lie about the necessity of surgery to line their pockets by committing insurance fraud at the expense of your physical health.
Anywhere from 10-20% of common surgeries might be unnecessary, with much higher rates for certain types of procedures. In all, tens of thousands of operations are performed every year that don’t need to be done. Unnecessary surgery can harm you in many different ways physically, emotionally and psychologically. Doctors who perform unnecessary surgeries are committing malpractice and should be held accountable to you for the damage they have caused, including physical injury as well as mental pain and suffering and psychological harm.
Michael Gunzburg is a New York personal injury lawyer concentrating heavily in the field of medical malpractice. Michael fights to hold doctors and hospitals accountable for the harm they have caused through medical mistakes, negligence, incompetence and fraud, including performing unnecessary surgeries on unwitting patients. If you believe you were the victim of unnecessary surgery in a hospital or surgery center in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn or Queens, call Michael Gunzburg, P.C., at 212-725-8500 for a free consultation on your claim.
Why Do Doctors Perform Unnecessary Surgeries?
Some of the reasons a doctor might perform unnecessary surgery include:
Insurance fraud – Unscrupulous doctors bilk Medicare and private insurance companies out of billions of dollars every by performing unnecessary procedures on patients and billing the insurer. One doctor made a living out of routinely misdiagnosing his elderly patients with skin cancer and performing operations on them over and over again.
Training – Surgeons are trained to perform surgeries, and that’s all they do. They aren’t general practitioners who could treat you in a number of different ways and just happen to choose surgery. If a surgeon is presented with a patient who could justifiably be treated with an operation, the surgeon might go ahead and operate without considering less-invasive alternatives.
Business reasons – Just as some lawyers get ahead by billing as many hours as they can to their clients (Michael Gunzburg, P.C., operates on contingency and doesn’t charge an hourly fee), surgeons are often part of a professional practice that encourages them to perform as many surgeries as possible. Performing a large number of operations is also the way to gain and keep admitting privileges at local hospitals. These incentives could cloud a surgeon’s judgment regarding whether a particular operation is truly necessary.
Competence – Some surgeons simply lack the competence, training or experience to know when surgery is necessary or could be avoided, when surgery is not warranted by the facts, or when non-surgical options might better serve the patient. All surgeons are not equal, but all are held to the standard of a reasonable professional in their community and area of specialty with a similar amount of education and training. Falling below this standard is the very definition of medical malpractice.
How Often Do Unnecessary Surgeries Occur?
It is impossible to know how many unnecessary surgeries are performed every year, because this information is not tracked by any medical databases, and countless unneeded surgeries likely go undetected by anybody, including the patient. The issue has nevertheless been studied a number of times over the years, giving a glimpse into the scope of the problem. For instance, a review of records from the National Practitioner Data Bank revealed over 1,000 settlements in malpractice claims between 2005 and 2013 based on allegations of unnecessary procedures. Even more alarming, a congressional report released in 1974 estimated 2.4 million unnecessary surgeries were performed every year, resulting in about 12,000 deaths.
The incidence of unnecessary surgeries can exceed 20% for certain types of procedures. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2011, for example, found no medical evidence to support the decision to implant a cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), a pacemaker-like device, in 22.5% of the cases studied.
What Kinds of Surgeries Are Performed Unnecessarily?
Although any surgery might be unnecessary given the particular set of circumstances involving the patient, some surgeries have been investigated and found to be performed unnecessarily more often than others. These surgeries include:
- Cardiac surgeries – Implanting a cardiac stent or pacemaker or performing angioplasty
- Spinal surgeries, including spinal fusion and bone-graft device implants
- Knee replacements when the patient could have recovered with physical therapy, medication and rest
- Cesarean sections (c-sections)
- Prostate removal
- Gall bladder removal
Hold Doctors and Hospitals Accountable for Unnecessary Surgery in New York City
Every surgery comes with risks. A surgeon could nick a nerve, artery or organ; the anesthesiologist could deliver too much or too little anesthesia or fail to monitor the patient’s vital signs; patients could acquire life-threatening infections from unsanitary tools used in surgery or during post-operative care; surgery increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, paralysis or brain damage. Surgery should only be performed with the patient’s informed consent, meaning they have been told of the risks and benefits of the operation as well as the risks and benefits of alternatives. Doctors can and should be held liable for failing to obtain an informed consent or performing unnecessary surgery.
If you believe you have been subjected to an unnecessary surgery in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn or Queens, call Michael Gunzburg, P.C., for a free consultation with a skilled and knowledgeable New York City medical malpractice lawyer.