When is Unnecessary Surgery a Medical Malpractice Case?

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In theory, your interests and those of your doctor should align perfectly when they are treating you because they are the ones who owe you a duty of care. Unfortunately, the doctor’s finances may guide their decisions in certain cases.

This is certainly true when your doctor performs an unnecessary surgery that is not justified by principles of medicine. In that case, you may be entitled to financial compensation after filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Schiller & Hamilton today to learn about whether you may have a potential lawsuit against your doctor.

Medicine Can Be a For-Profit Business

In-person and emergency care typically only allow a hospital to break even. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed exactly how much hospitals and doctors depend on elective surgeries to fortify their profits.

In one example, hospital profits dropped 42% during the periods when these elective surgeries were on hold. Doctors also experienced a large drop in their income, with many needing government support to stay afloat during the lockdown.

There are millions of unnecessary surgical procedures performed in the United States each year. These surgeries entail several costs and not just the financial cost to pay the doctor. The patient who must undergo the procedure experiences a destruction to their life and puts their health and safety in jeopardy.

While they are relying on their doctor to make the appropriate recommendation, the patient has no idea that the doctor is either not exercising their best judgment or has their financial motivation involved.

Doctors may perform unnecessary surgeries in the following areas:

  • Lumbar spine surgeries, are often the most common unnecessary procedure, as nearly half of them may lack a reasonable basis
  • Knee replacement surgeries, which researchers have found as far back as 2014 that 34% are considered unnecessary.
  • Insertion of a pacemaker in the heart
  • Removal of the gallbladder

Why Do Doctors Perform Unnecessary Surgery?

Doctors may perform unnecessary surgeries for several reasons. In some cases, their motivations are purely financial. Struggling to earn a living when dealing with insurance companies and limited reimbursements, doctors may resort to questionable methods to boost their incomes, including performing surgery that is of dubious necessity.

The doctor may simply use poor judgment in determining whether to conduct a surgical procedure. They may not appropriately weigh the risks that the patient will face and the utility of the surgery.

Every surgical procedure requires a recovery period, and some procedures may not achieve the results that the patient desires. The doctor must weigh all of these factors before they decide to perform the surgery. They are making a recommendation to the patient and many will simply trust what their doctor says and go along with it.

Patients May Receive Poor Outcomes from Unnecessary Surgeries

There is always a risk when a patient undergoes a surgical procedure. Many knee replacement surgeries, for example, do not result in a positive outcome for the patient. Over time, the knee replacement may fail, and the patient may need an additional surgical procedure to replace it.

Gallbladder surgeries, another sometimes unnecessary procedure, could lead to other complications in the immediate aftermath.

These procedures may both be a risk to the patient’s health and force them to go through pain and suffering while they are recovering. The doctor has been paid for the surgery, while the patient is forced to live with the consequences long-term.

Unnecessary Surgeries Can Be Considered Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice cases involve situations in which the doctor fails to act as a reasonable professional would under the circumstances. Here, reasonable can mean several things.

A reasonable doctor performs only surgeries that are necessary for your health and well-being.

A reasonable doctor would not subject the patient to the risk of a procedure and the resulting recovery period.

Your doctor’s decisions and whether to perform the surgery in the first place are also subject to review in a medical malpractice case.

The doctor’s considerations have absolutely nothing to do with their decision. Whether your surgery was necessary and whether the doctor made the right objective decision to perform the procedure are important factors. If the answer is no, you may be entitled to substantial financial competition in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

You may be eligible for compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit, even if your surgery did not have a poor outcome. The fact that you had to go through the procedure and the rehabilitation is an injury in itself that could entitle you to a settlement.

Your Damages in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

You may be entitled to substantial financial compensation in any type of medical malpractice case. Your compensation could include the following:

  • The actual cost of the surgery (both your cost share and the amount that the health insurance company paid reimbursed to them)
  • Lost wages for the time that you missed from work because of the procedure and its recovery
  • Pain and suffering that you endured in the aftermath of the procedure and during your recovery
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Emotional distress

It is hard to say what you may be able to expect in a settlement or jury award without reviewing the specifics of your case. Each medical malpractice victim suffers different impacts from the doctor’s negligence, and your losses must be fully compensated. You could schedule a case review with an attorney to see if your medical malpractice claim has merit.

Contact a South Carolina Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured in a medical malpractice case, you need to get legal help today to explore your potential courses of action. You may even be able to sue the doctor or medical professional and recover financial compensation for unnecessary surgery.

Call the lawyers at Schiller & Hamilton today to discuss your case. You can message us through our website, or call us today at 843-379-5006 to speak with a lawyer. The advice and help are free.

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