Each year, 48 million surgeries are performed in the United States. Many of these surgeries are necessary and improve or save patients’ lives. However, as many as half of these surgeries may not be necessary.
All surgeries come with the risk of complications such as hemorrhage, damage to organs, infection and anesthesia errors. All surgeries require time off from work for recovery. All surgeries involve some degree of pain and suffering.
When the surgery was not necessary in the first place, these costs hit especially hard.
Unnecessary Surgery Is Common
The most common unnecessary surgeries are coronary bypass surgery, pacemaker implants, gastric bypass, hysterectomy, caesarian section, and surgery for heartburn or irritable bowel syndrome.
Many analysts feel that the increasing number of unnecessary surgeries is linked to the increasing number of doctor-owned outpatient surgery centers.
If you feel you have been unnecessarily subjected to surgery, you could be entitled to compensation for expenses related to the surgery, plus lost income as well as pain and suffering.
Unnecessary Isn’t the Same as Negligent
If a surgeon performs a procedure that stems from a reasonable, medically based concern, but the surgery turned out to be unnecessary, the surgery probably does not constitute malpractice. To be malpractice, the surgeon must have been negligent in some way and the surgery must have caused long-term harm.
There Must Be a Legitimate Medical Need
A doctor who turns to surgery right away instead of suggesting non-surgical options to the patient might be considered negligent. A doctor who misdiagnoses a condition and then performs surgery might be considered negligent if, based on the evidence, other competent doctors would not have made the same mistake.
If a lawsuit is filed, the patient’s medical records will most likely be turned over to a third-party expert who will determine if the doctor’s decision to recommend surgery complied with standard practice.
Before undergoing surgery, a patient should always get a second or third opinion.
There Must Be Informed Consent
Before any surgery is performed, a doctor should inform a patient of both the risks and benefits of the surgery, as well as what could happen if the surgery is not performed. A doctor who fails to inform the patient of the possible consequences of surgery might be considered negligent. The same holds true if the patient feels pressured to consent.
Standard of Care Must Be Followed
Finally, a surgeon who makes a mistake during a surgery (diverging from standards of care), whether or not the surgery was necessary, can be considered negligent.
Call a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
The issues surrounding filing a medical malpractice lawsuit for unnecessary surgery is extremely complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a medical malpractice lawyer.