Consumer Reports: Thousands of people undergo unnecessary procedures

How to talk to your doctor about surgery

During the first ten months of the COVID-19 pandemic, even when most cities were on lockdown, Medicare was billed for over 100,000 in overused or unnecessary surgeries or procedures according to the non-profit Lown Institute.

That includes more than 45,000 stents for coronary heart disease, 16,000 vertebroplasties for osteoporosis, and 14,000 hysterectomies for benign disease.

“In some instances, these are life-saving procedures, however, in a number of cases, a patient’s condition could also be well-managed with a less invasive treatment that was just as effective,” Diane Umansky with Consumer Reports said.

The study found doctors performed more than 13,000 unnecessary spinal fusions.

While the procedure can be successful, experts say for moderate to mild back pain, it’s often no more effective than nonsurgical treatments like physical therapy.

Consumer Reports said if your doctor recommends a surgical procedure, have an open and honest talk about the benefits and risks.

CR suggests these two questions to get started:

  1. If your parent or child had this condition, would you recommend this procedure?
  2. What alternatives are there?

And before any major procedure, CR said to seriously consider a second option.


About the Authors:

You can watch Brittny during the week anchoring the 5, 7 and 11 p.m. newscasts on WSLS 10 and reporting on news that matters to you.

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.