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scottsdale • phoenix
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Most Common Types of Unneeded Surgeries

Published on February 7, 2023

Surgery is a life-saving treatment option for people around the world with a variety of medical conditions, allowing people to continue living long after illnesses and diseases that would have shortened their lifespans in past centuries. According to the American College of Surgeons, approximately 15 million Americans undergo surgery in an average year. But surgeries are not without risks and often have long-term consequences on health and lifestyle. That’s why it can be incredibly frustrating to learn that you’ve endured the physical trauma, emotional upheaval, and expenses of a surgery you didn’t need.

The medical community defines unneeded surgeries as those that are “not needed, not indicated, and not in the best interests of the patient when more conservative options are available.”

An unneeded surgery may be grounds for a medical malpractice claim. You could recover financial damages and compensation for pain and suffering if you underwent an unneeded surgery.

When is an Unneeded Surgery Medical Malpractice?

Often different doctors prescribe different courses of treatment for illnesses and medical conditions. That’s why many people choose to get a second opinion before deciding on critical medical care. There may be times when one doctor recommends surgery when another doctor within the same field would recommend a different course of treatment. Not every unnecessary surgery constitutes medical malpractice, but when one doctor’s treatment does not meet the accepted standard of care, you could have a claim for medical malpractice.

Surgery may be provably unnecessary and an example of medical malpractice under the following circumstances:

  • When the recommendation for surgery was due to a medically negligent misdiagnosis
  • When the surgery lacked informed consent from the patient or went beyond the parameters of their informed consent
  • When the surgeon operated on the wrong side, wrong body part, or wrong patient
  • When the surgeon’s personal or financial interests were the motivating factor in an unneeded surgery
  • When the doctor did not inform the patient of all risks and benefits, therefore not obtaining true informed consent

Common Examples of Unneeded Medical Malpractice

Sadly, some types of commonly performed surgeries are often later learned to have been medically unnecessary including the following:

  • C-sections
  • Gallbladder removal
  • Back surgery, including spinal fusion
  • Hip surgery
  • Knee surgery
  • Tonsillectomies
  • Heart stents
  • Pacemaker installation

Liability for Unneeded Surgery

When a patient makes a claim for unneeded surgery, either the surgeon himself or the hospital may bear liability, depending on whether the doctor works directly for the hospital or is an independent contractor. Proving liability in these cases may require an investigation by an attorney along with a third-party medical expert who can review the case and learn how the doctor arrived at the diagnosis and recommendation for surgery. The investigation may include the following:

  • Reviewing the doctor’s information about what outcomes the patient could expect from the surgery and its risks and benefits
  • Reviewing the signed consent form
  • Learning the common recommendations for the condition
  • Examining the complication rate for the procedure
  • Comparing the patient’s medical condition before the surgery to the complications and economic damages they’ve experienced since the surgery
  • Reviewing your doctor’s history and experience in treating your condition 

If either the doctor or the hospital did not provide you with the accepted standard of care for your condition then they are liable for the patient’s damages. A skilled Phoenix surgical error attorney knows how to investigate your surgery to determine liability and craft a compelling case for full compensation for all your damages.

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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.