TIL that according to a congressional report there are an estimated 2.4 million cases of unnecessary surgery sold and performed on the public every year. Lucian Leape, a former surgeon and professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, a renowned patient safety expert cautions

Read more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/18/unnecessary-surgery-usa-today-investigation/2435009//

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  1. I wonder what the terms mean for the purposes of the study. Surgery could mean something different than we might be thinking. Same with what’s deemed unnecessary. Technically, facial burn reconstruction surgery isn’t “necessary” but it’s still a big part of quality of life. Same with elective procedures like vasectomies or rhinoplasty.

  2. Sounds like the study breaks the unnecessary surgeries down into specialty. For example there are “high rates of unnecessary surgery, particularly in spinal and cardiac operations.”

    >In fact, unnecessary surgeries might account for 10% to 20% of all operations in some specialties, including a wide range of cardiac procedures — not only stents, but also angioplasty and pacemaker implants — as well as many spinal surgeries.

    >Knee replacements, hysterectomies, and cesarean sections are among the other surgical procedures performed more often than needed, according to a review of in-depth studies and data generated by both government and academic sources.

    >About 10% of all spinal fusions paid for by Medicare in 2011 were not necessary.

    >A 2011 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed records for 112,000 patients who had an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), a pacemaker-like device that corrects heartbeat irregularities. In **22.5% of the cases, researchers found no medical evidence to support installing the devices.**

    >Another 2011 study, in the journal Surgical Neurology International, evaluated 274 patients with neck and back complaints over a one-year period: More than **17% had been told they needed surgery** but had no neurological or radiographic findings that indicated an operation was necessary.

    >”Then you have a big group who are more businessmen than medical professionals — doctors who look at those gray cases and say, ‘Well, I have enough here to justify surgery, so I’m going to do it.'”

    >The pressures are real. Doctors’ income can hinge largely on the number of surgeries they do — and the revenue those procedures generate. Those numbers also can determine whether doctors get privileges at certain hospitals or membership in top practices.

    So it sounds like profit is the driving force behind selling and performing unnecessary surgery on the public.

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