Americas, USA, Science & Tech

Medical Procedures: The US Health System Rips Off Its Patients

It has been discovered recently, that a lot of patients who are suffering from severe heart diseases get prescribed medical procedures by doctors that do them no good. Instead of being beneficial for the patients, some of these medical procedures even prove to be dangerous. Take the example of a stent that most doctors prescribe to patients suffering from heart diseases. These stents easily cost patients between $11,000 to $41,000 in the United States of America.

Who in their right minds would be able to afford a treatment that expensive? Patients do their best anyway because doctors make them believe that without a stent in them, the patients won’t have a fighting chance. The truth of a stent, however, is that it works no better than placebo medicine.

Stents: Necessary Evil or Hail Mary?

Doctors have routinely been known to prescribe medication to patients that isn’t always based on sound medication and is close to a Hail Mary instead.

The stent controversy that recently came to light only punctuates the fact that America continues to struggle with treatments that are based on evidence.

“Millions of people are receiving drugs that aren’t helping them, operations that aren’t going to make them better, and scans and tests that do nothing beneficial for them, and often cause harm.”

Atul Gawande, Surgeon and Health Care Researcher

A study conducted on the United States and its spending habits concluded that overtreatment in health care contributed to an estimate of $158 billion to $226 billion in the year 2011 alone.

Do We Need These Medical Procedures?

We aren’t denying the fact that in a case where a patient is fighting for his life, a stent can be a game changer. We are simply concluding that studies show that doctors continue to implant stents in the chests of patients who are suffering from minor chest pains. These stents do them little to no good and drain these patients of their entire life savings. A stent is just a precautionary medical procedure. It only helps elevate the pain a patient is feeling during a physical excursion of any kind but it does not help prevent a heart attack.

A few years ago, two organizations, the American Medical Association as well as the Joint Commission, issued a report that claimed that 1 in every 10 patients doesn’t require medical procedures such as a stent. A stent can have a major impact on patients’ savings and has more side effects than benefits. In most cases, they have been known to cause tears in the blood vessel walls thereby leading to major bleeding and other health issues that can be expensive to treat.

Medical Procedures Revenues and Hospital Politics

We can even go as far as to say that there can only be one reason why a doctor would prescribe a stent to be inserted into a patient when a patient doesn’t really need one. For the doctor’s own personal financial gain. Stent medical procedures bring a lot of money to the hospitals they are performed in and that generally reflects well on the doctor who locks the patient down on this procedure.

The problem doesn’t only lie in the financial gain of the hospitals but also in the unawareness that most patients have. Contrary to popular beliefs, coronaries are in no regard a “plumbing” problem. Therefore, how can a stent possibly help?

“If you have a clogged sink, you call a plumber and he cleans out your sink and it’s fixed; that’s the analogy people have in their minds. But that’s not how angioplasty works. They’re not cleaning out the whole pipe. They’re just going to this one small area where there’s a stenosis. But the rest of the artery could be full of inflammation and other plaques.”

Dr. Rothberg

The Underlying US Healthcare Issue?

The problem lies in two aspects, both related to communication. One is the deliverance of the message and the other being its reception. A doctor can only explain as much to a patient as a patient is capable of understanding. Medical procedures such as these are so widely common in the United States of America because patients rarely understand the medical condition that they are going through to be able to make a sound call about treatments they receive. The sad news is, the American healthcare system isn’t getting any better.

About Maham Khan

Maham is a 22 year old Pakistani who is obsessed with pasta and Wonder Woman. She will be the voice of Pakistan in a place where it truly matters and bring light to matters nobody dares to speak about. Join her on this journey as we talk about issues that our modern world endures.

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