Unnecessary surgery is an everyday occurrence in America. Powerful money incentives make it so. Fee-for-service doctors, especially surgeons and those who own their own testing equipment, are paid by the quantity of work they do, not the quality of care they provide. So patients in cities with more surgeons get more surgery, as Dartmouth medical school researchers have shown in a series of studies over the last 30 years.
On the other hand, not every instance of unnecessary surgery warrants a lawsuit. Sometimes the ultimate harm to the patient is negligible. Other times, the surgeon can find colleagues who can mount a persuasive case that while not every surgeon would have advocated for an operation, enough doctors would that the case becomes one of a judgment call – and then the focus shifts to whether the surgeon adequately counseled the patient ahead of time about the risks, benefits and options.
My client Mike Wood was a victim of unnecessary surgery and also a lack of proper informed consent. A backhoe operator and outdoorsman in southern Maryland, Wood went to an emergency room one night with chest pain. After it was proven not to be a heart attack, the ER doctors had a surgeon see him, because they couldn’t get a blood pressure in his left arm. Read more…
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