Did you know that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in America?
Another study found that roughly 11% of all surgeries in America were unnecessary.
When you pair these statistics together, you begin to understand how fatal unnecessary surgeries can be.
Unsurprisingly, unnecessary surgery is one of the most common types of medical malpractice today.
If you or a loved one has experienced pain and suffering, or death, caused by unnecessary surgery, you may be eligible for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Learn what constitutes surgery as “unnecessary,” the reasons why they’re performed, and what you can do to get the compensation you deserve.
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What is an “Unnecessary Surgery”?
Unnecessary surgery is any surgery that isn’t beneficial to or in the best interest of the patient.
These surgeries are not only costly for the patient but also needlessly expose them to more risks of complications, including death.
While you hope that your surgeon has your best interests in mind, this may not always be the case. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous surgeons who take advantage of monetary incentives by performing unnecessary surgical procedures for their own personal gain.
Other surgeons recommend unnecessary surgeries out of ignorance or due to past precedent.
The 5 Most Common Unnecessary Surgeries
The majority of unnecessary surgeries are performed out of incompetence, inexperience, misdiagnosis, or plain greed by the surgeon. Below are the most common unnecessary or drastic surgical procedures performed today.
Birth by cesarean sections is common in unique circumstances for improving birth outcomes and reducing mortality rates in newborns.
The ideal rate of C-section around the world is 19%. In America, it’s at 31.9%.
While many more women elect to receive a C-section, other women are pushed into it by their doctors.
One study found that the layout of a hospital significantly predicts and affects C-section rates. Research has shown that the bigger the distance between delivery rooms at a hospital, the higher the rate of C-sections.
C-sections carry risks and complications for the mother and child including:
- Breathing problems, called transient tachypnea, cause fast breathing in the baby immediately following birth. This typically lasts a few days.
- Surgical injuries or cuts to the baby’s skin during the procedure.
- Infection caused by the incisions, potentially causing endometritis.
- Postpartum hemorrhaging, causing excessive bleeding during or after surgery.
- Increased risk of developing fatal blood clots.
- Surgical injuries to the mother, caused by a scalpel accidentally cutting the bladder or bowel.
- Increased risks for future pregnancies.
Hysterectomies are the second most common surgery among American women.
A hysterectomy removes a woman’s uterus, in order to treat uterine fibroids, gynecological cancer, endometriosis, or uterine prolapses.
Hysterectomies are considered to be the last resort option, and doctors should consider using alternatives such as stopping birth control, using NSAIDs, antibiotics, or counseling before removing the uterus.
Risks and complications related to hysterectomies include:
- Ureter damage
- Bladder or bowel damage
- Blood clots
- Vaginal problems
- Ovary failure
- Early menopause
Spinal fusion and back surgery
Spinal fusion surgery permanently connects two or more vertebrae in the spine, leaving decreased motion and mobility in the patient. The New York Times referred to spinal fusion as “useless” surgery.
Unfortunately, many spinal fusion surgeries aren’t any more effective at reducing degenerative disk disease than physical therapy but are much more expensive and dangerous.
Risks can include:
- Screws in the spine may become loose or break off, requiring additional surgeries
- Possible paralysis and sexual dysfunction
- Pain at site where the bone graft is taken
Angioplasty (heart stents)
Angioplasty is a type of surgery that opens narrowed or blocked blood vessels in the heart by inserting balloons known as “stents” to expand the coronary artery to improve blood flow.
Surprisingly, angioplasty is not considered major surgery, even though it carries significant risks and should only be a last resort option after trying other medical therapies.
Risks and complications include:
- Blood clots can form after the procedure, causing a heart attack
- Coronary artery damage
- Kidney problems
Also known as a perineotomy, is an incision of the perineum, the area of skin between a woman’s vagina and anus. This is performed during childbirth to ease the delivery of the child and to prevent rupture of the vaginal tissue.
Episiotomies should only be used in emergency situations and can lead to severe health consequences, including:
- Tearing into rectal tissues and the anal sphincter muscles
- Pain during intercourse
- Increased risks of vaginal tears later
- Rectal incontinence caused by nerve damage
Other Common Unnecessary Surgeries:
The list of unnecessary surgeries extends beyond the top 5 most common. Below are examples of other surgeries that are typically unwarranted or unnecessary:
- Gallbladder removal
- Knee and hip replacement
- Heartburn surgery
When You Should Get a Second Opinion
Asking for a second opinion before surgery isn’t rude — it’s prudent and is advisable anytime you are considering a surgical procedure.
Too often patients are afraid of offending their doctor and simply accept their doctor’s recommendation without seeking another expert’s opinion.
If you feel that your doctor is pushing for a surgical procedure that you’re not comfortable with, or feels too aggressive, you should definitely seek a second opinion to see if there are safer alternatives to explore before settling on surgery.
Can You Sue for Getting Unnecessary Surgery?
If you received unnecessary surgery, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, not all cases of unnecessary surgery will warrant a lawsuit.
In order to have a successful case, you’ll need to provide evidence that:
- The doctor didn’t get informed consent from the patient
- Performed unnecessary surgery for their own financial gain or incentive
- The unnecessary surgery caused pain and suffering to the patient and their family
- Medical misdiagnosis was responsible for the unnecessary surgery
- The doctor didn’t reach the standard duty of care performing surgery
You’ll need to provide proof of damages caused by complications from the unnecessary surgery, including lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering to determine your lawsuit’s amount.
Grover Lewis Johnson, Your Medical Malpractice Team
Grover Lewis Johnson is a team of medical malpractice experts who use compassion and strength to win your personal injury case with integrity.
With over 25 years of experience leading successful trials, Richard K Grover, Jr. has assembled the brightest legal minds in Michigan to form Grover Lewis Johnson.
We have a proven track record of leading numerous successful trials, and carefully select all of our cases to ensure we can reach a practical resolution early on through settlement.
At Grover Lewis Johnson, we work on a contingency basis, meaning you won’t pay any fees until your case is settled.
Book your no-cost consultation today and our team will contact you as soon as possible.