Modern surgical procedures allow medical professionals to treat a wide variety of ailments in ways many never thought possible. Unfortunately, all too often, patients are victims of unnecessary surgeries that leave them worse off.
A Timely Matter
Recently, the famous pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan gained news for filing a 50-million-dollar malpractice lawsuit against a group of Tampa-based doctors, who he says severely damaged his career by prescribing unnecessary endoscopic surgical procedures. At the same time, the British National Health Service is facing a major independent investigation due to allegations that one of its doctors performed inappropriate or unnecessary breast operations on several female patients.
Unfortunately, these two examples are just drops in the bucket of alleged unnecessary surgeries that plague the medical industry, thanks to profit-oriented mentalities that don’t always have a patient’s best interests in mind.
Often, unnecessary surgeries result from improper diagnoses. To combat this problem, researchers are taking steps to make it easier for doctors to assess patient needs. Recently, scientists unveiled a new test that can be used to detect the presence of thyroid cancer in at-risk patients. Traditionally, patients were forced to undergo surgery to collect tissue samples. Unfortunately, more often than not, these surgeries proved unnecessary, when the tissue samples came back negative. Now, patients can avoid surgery by submitting to a ground-breaking new gene expression test, which uses an ultrasound-guided needle to collect small biopsies.
Just as thyroid issues tend to promote the prescribing of unnecessary surgeries; temporomandibular joint disorder often lands people on operating tables where they are forced to endure painful, invasive procedures that don’t always prove effective. To help clinicians better assess whether surgery is necessary for an individual patient, researchers from the University of Melbourne, Australia have created a model for rating TMD symptoms. Still, according to Dr. Ken Collins, who treats TMD patients at his Spokane dental office, patients need to be wary of recommendations involving surgery, even when TMD symptoms are debilitating.
“TMD surgery is only appropriate in severe cases, and even then, it doesn’t always work,” he said. “The majority of the time, patients can find relief non-surgically by addressing the root cause of their problem. Most TMD symptoms stem from problems involving a person’s bite. When these are corrected, relief quickly follows. Non-surgical options are generally better, because they result in less pain, less risk and no down-time.”
Avoiding Unnecessary Surgery
Invariably, the best way to avoid unnecessary surgery is to be your own advocate. This means getting second opinions on diagnoses and potential treatments. Before you submit to an invasive surgical procedure, be sure you understand all of your options, or you could end up worse off than you were before.
- Hulk Hogan sues Tampa-based spine clinic for $50 million, alleging malpractice
- NHS trust under scrutiny over claims of unnecessary breast operations
- License: Creative Commons image source
Ryan Lawrence writes for Off-Topic Media. Thanks Dr. Ken Collins for contributing his TMJ expertise to this story.