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Millions of patients subjected to unnecessary operations

The prospect of undergoing almost any type of medical procedure or surgery can be unnerving at best. Thousands of patients in New York hospitals experience serious medical complications as a result of surgery every year, and many are forced to live with the permanent consequences. That is why the decision to undergo surgery must be based on the informed and responsible advice of physicians and medical professionals, and in consideration of the potential benefits versus all possible risks. Given that a new study found that a large number of Medicare patients across the country undergo unnecessary medical procedures annually, concerns must be raised over harmful surgical errors and poor judgment on the part of physicians.

The study, which was recently published in an online medical journal, was based on research examining procedures conducted on more than 1 million Medicare patients in 2009. Multiple medical organizations contributed to the work, and the authors of the study hope that their findings will raise awareness and concerns over patient care and policies.

After identifying a number of overused and gratuitous medical procedures, researchers found that even conservative estimates point to the fact that around 25 percent of Medicare patients were subjected to unnecessary procedures during the one-year period. That figure may actually be considerably higher, since it is believed that up to $8 billion in Medicare funds was spent on performing unwarranted procedures on more than 40 percent of patients during the same period.

While the procedures in question varied greatly, some were found to be associated with considerable medical risks and were invasive to patients. Physicians' motives for subjecting so many Medicare patients to expensive and unnecessary procedures must be questioned at least in part because doctor compensation rates are based on the number of procedures prescribed.

Source: abc2news.com, "Overtreating Medicare patients may cost billions," May 13, 2014

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