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Hold that scalpel: unnecessary surgeries rose during pandemic

Over 100,000 people underwent superfluous and potentially harmful medical procedures between March and December 2020. Coronary stents, a heart surgical procedure, ranked high on the list of unnecessary procedures.

To operate or not to operate?

Extensive research shows that this type of heart surgery offers little to no clinical benefit and can harm patients. Still, doctors continue to perform these procedures often despite the literature and recent studies that have concluded that surgical intervention is unnecessary.

The number of individuals who underwent this type of surgery between March 2020 and December of the same year was 45,176, becoming the most overused of all procedures in the study.

In addition, the matter has become of great concern because:

  1. Approximately one in five met the criterion for overuse.
  2. These procedures took place in the nation’s highest-rated hospitals.

Alternatives to surgery

According to Stanford University, when doctors treat patients with medication and lifestyle advice, patients are not at a higher risk of a heart attack than those who undergo heart surgery. While it is critically important for patients to follow medical advice, studies showed that this approach is successful and that patients are successfully able to make the required lifestyle changes.

Study findings

Studies conducted at the university showed that patients who underwent an invasive procedure:

  1. Had a slightly higher possibility of having a heart problem within the first year after the surgical procedure.
  2. Were at a higher risk of developing other heart-related conditions.

Unnecessary surgeries are a complicated topic in the medical community. Not only do these procedures undermine patient safety, but they also place patients at unnecessary risk of infection and potential complications from the unnecessary procedure and create confusion within the medical community as it pertains to the duty of standard of care that medical providers owe to their patients.