A USA Today investigation found that tens of thousands of Americans undergo unnecessary surgeries each year and identified six of the most over-performed procedures.
For the investigation, USA Today examined federal data and independent studies. Based on the review, researchers concluded that unnecessary surgeries may account for 10% to 20% of surgeries in certain specialties.
They found that the following six surgeries are often unnecessary for many patients:
- Cardiac angioplasty or stents: A 2011 JAMA study found that 12% of all angioplasty procedures lack medical necessity.
- Cardiac pacemakers: A 2011 JAMA study found no medical evidence to support installing 22.5% of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs).
- Spinal fusion: A 2011 study in Surgical Neurology International found that more than 17% of patients who were told they needed spinal surgery had no abnormal neurological or radiographic findings.
- Hysterectomy: A 2000 study from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists indicated that 70% of hysterectomies may be inappropriate.
- Knee and hip replacement: A 2012 Health Affairs study found that patients who have "decision aids" with information on joint replacements underwent 26% fewer hip replacements and 38% fewer knee replacements.
- Cesarean section: A 2013 Health Affairs study found major variation in the cesarean rates at hospitals nationwide.
Since 2005, more than 1,000 physicians have paid to settle or close malpractice claims involving allegations of unnecessary or inappropriate surgical procedures, according to USA Today analysis of the National Practitioner Data Bank (Eisler, USA Today, 6/19; Eisler/Hansen, USA Today, 6/20).
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