Friday, August 20, 2010

Medical Care Major Unnecessary Operations are Done at Alarming Levels

Tags: Unnecessary Major Operations Done at Alarming Levels such as One-third of By-pass Operations, 300,000 Ovaries, Treatment Trap, Gibson,

In Silicon Valley, the number of unnecessary coronary bypasses at just one hospital. About one-third of coronary by-passes have been found to be unnecessary and done on people who had no plaque in their arteries! The Treatment Trap: How the Overuse of Medical Care is Wrecking Your Health and What You Can Do to Prevent It, by Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh, 2010. In the past I have recommended the book Overtreated by Shannon Brownlee, a long time medical journalist who covered mainly data from millions of Medicare patients.

Gibson, who is a conservative and a former Free Enterprise member, was a long-time head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The co-author Singh worked as an economists for many Prime Ministers in India and is now working in the World Bank. Gibson worked closely with the Consumers Union which published Consumer Reports magazine. She covers what is happening now! She gave a talk at Saint Peters Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey part of the University Hospital system where a friend's daughter works as a pharmacist.

You can go to her blog at

In her introduction to the book some of her findings are startling!

  1. “One-Third of people who were told they needed heart bypass surgery did not need it. Harvard School of Public Health and the Rand Corporation
  2. People who had full body CT scan are exposed to radiation at a level comparable to doses received by some of the atomic-bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki,, according to finds from researchers at Columbia University in New York.
  3. Nearly 300,000 women have healthy ovaries removed unnecessarily each year during a hysterectomy according to the journal of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Many of women die prematurely from cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis related conditions.
  4. Tens of thousands of children have unnecessary operations every year in the United States to surgically implant ear tubes as a guard against ear infections reported in the journal Pediatrics.
  5. Tens of thousands have back surgeries for chronic back pain when the evidence for surgical success is virtually nonexistent. Dartmouth Medical School.
  6. More than ten thousand surgeries performed each year to prevent strokes have dubious benefit and may cause more harm than good. Mount Sinai School of Medicine New York.
  7. Ten million women have unnecessary Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer, yet they are not at risk for the disease because they have had a complete hysterectomy and no longer have a cervix. JAMA.

Gibson also reports that in November 2008 the National Quality Forum, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, released a list of prescription drugs, lab tests, diagnostic tests, and surgeries that are overused. The list includes antibiotics, x-rays, cardiac CT scans, heart bypass surgery, back surgery, knee and hip replacement, prostatectomy, angioplasty, and hysterectomy.

  1. page 42 The national Center for Health Statistics reports that in 2006 more than 250,000 people had heart bypass surgery. Nearly 569,000 total knee replacements, and 231,000 hip replacements performed. …

  1. page 70 Perhaps Californians have more bypass surgeries than the rest of the country. They do not, and in fact the rate of bypass surgery in California is lower than the national average.
  2. Ron lived in a community hospital the rate of bypass surgery went through the roof, a rate not expected at some of the largest best known centers. It doubled from 1992 to 2001. This hospital was performing surgeries on people who did not need them. Ron did not know this so he went ahead.
  3. Ron’s son was a detective with the Red Bluff, California, police department. About a year after his dad’s bypass surgery, he called him to let him know that the FBI had raided the hospital where Ron has been a patient. It was suspected of performing unnecessary heart procedures.

Ron went to see a lawyer, who obtained all his medical records and hired doctors to review them. They concluded he never needed bypass surgery. Ron was one of seven hundred people who filed civil suits against the hospital., Redding Medical Center, and its doctors for performing unnecessary cardia procedures. In total the hospital and the doctors paid nearly $500 million in fines and penalties. But the federal prosecutor (during the Bush administration) refused to prosecute the doctors or hospital.

The number of bypass at that hospital plummeted.” …

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