Every year millions of Americans go under the knife, but many of them are enduring great pain and shelling out thousands of dollars for surgeries they don't really need. In fact, the only people who seem to really benefit from these unnecessary medical procedures are the medical professionals who stand to make exorbitant amounts of money from performing them.
An estimated 7.5 million unnecessary medical and surgical procedures are performed each year, writes Gary Null, PhD., in Death by Medicine. Rather than reverse the problems they purport to fix, these unwarranted procedures can often lead to greater health problems and even death. A 1995 report by Milliman & Robertson, Inc. concluded that nearly 60 percent of all surgeries performed are medically unnecessary, according to Under The Influence of Modern Medicine by Terry A. Rondberg. Some of the most major and frequently performed unnecessary surgeries include hysterectomies, Cesarean sections and coronary artery bypass surgeries.
Coronary bypasses are the most common unnecessary surgeries in America
In a nation plagued by heart disease, it often seems that the knee-jerk reaction of American doctors is to treat heart problems with surgery. However, many of the heart surgeries performed each year are unnecessary procedures that could be putting the patients' lives at greater risk. "(W)hen faced with heart disease, doctors recommend a bypass. By so doing, we think, they bypass the real problem. Bypasses are the single most commonly performed unnecessary surgery in the country," write Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Mark Liponis in Ultraprevention. In fact, according to Burton Goldberg, author of Heart Disease, most coronary artery bypass surgeries and angioplasties produce no real benefit to the patient and dangerous side effects like stroke or brain damage may result from the operations. "Coronary artery bypass surgery is called an 'overprescribed and unnecessary surgery' by many leading authorities," Goldberg writes. "Complications from such treatments are common and the expense to the health care system is extraordinarily high. In 1994, an estimated 501,000 bypass surgeries at $44,000 each were performed on Americans, 47 percent of which were done on men.”
Women are at an especially high risk of unnecessary surgery
Women may be at an especially high risk for unwarranted operations, since hysterectomies and Cesarean sections also top the list of "overprescribed and unnecessary" surgeries. Of the approximately 750,000 hysterectomies performed each year, 90 percent are unnecessary, writes Goldberg in Alternative Medicine, making the removal of a woman's uterus one of the most commonly performed unnecessary surgeries. And the risk that comes with an unwarranted hysterectomy is high. "Each year 750,000 hysterectomies are performed and 2,500 women die during the operation. These are not sick women, but healthy women who go into the hospital and do not come out," says Dr. Herbert Goldfarb, a gynecologist and assistant clinical professor at New York University's School of Medicine, in Null's Woman's Encyclopedia Of Natural Healing.
Women are also frequently subjected to Caesarean sections they don't really need. With an estimated 920,000 Cesarean births performed each year, the Cesarean has become the "most common major surgery in America" and it is four times more likely a woman will give birth via cesarean section today than it was in 1970, according to The Medical Racket by Martin L. Gross. Women are also at special risk for receiving unwarranted surgeries because of the results of a mammogram, since the high rate of false positives in mammography often leads to invasive procedures. Women who do not even have cancer to begin with are treated for breast cancer, Goldberg writes. That's right: These women's bodies are carved up and altered and they aren't even sick. So why does this happen?
Needless surgeries mean higher profits for doctors and hospitals
It may seem unfathomable to think a doctor could be so careless as to perform an operation that doesn't need to be done, but it has been happening for years, from the more minor routinely- performed tonsillectomies of the past to the invasive heart procedures, hysterectomies, back surgeries and more of today. "(T)he reality is that unnecessary surgery, whether performed by doctors who operate out of ignorance, self-delusion, or simple greed has long plagued medicine and today still reaches epidemic proportions." writes Gross. It may be hard to stomach the idea that doctors are capable of operating out of greed for more money, but some feel that is exactly what is happening. "American physicians are generally way too eager to use the surgeon's knife to carve up and chop out whatever they think is ailing you, at great expense to you and great profit to them and the hospitals they work for," write Earl Mindell and Virginia Hopkins in Prescription Alternatives.
When it comes to heart surgeries, Heart Frauds author Dr. Charles T. McGee writes, "As Harvard professor Braunwald predicted, a financial empire has developed around surgical procedures on the heart. With so many powerful vested interests involved, it will be difficult to change how American doctors treat patients with coronary artery disease. No one who is currently gaining from the system has any incentive to try to stop the unnecessary costs and suffering." In other words, surgery makes money and surgery is what medical professionals are trained to do, so rather than exert the time and energy to try more conservative treatments that could threaten their very careers, medical professionals often turn to surgery as their most immediate and financially logical avenue. "The economic incentive for a physician to operate on you is great. Surgeries make doctors a lot of money. Doctors are human beings and they are not immune to the lure of bigger profits," according to Prescription Medicines, Side Effects and Natural Alternatives by American Medical Publishing.
One extreme case involving a doctor knowingly reaping the financial benefits of unnecessary surgeries occurred in California, where an ophthalmologist managed to bill Medicare $46 million over four years for unwarranted operations he performed on his patients. "According to the government, he created a 'surgery mill,' in which he falsified patient records to justify numerous unnecessary cataract and eyelid operations. In addition to this wholesale theft, he put his patients through unneeded pain and worry," writes Gross. It is also important to note in all of this that unnecessary surgery is not considered medical malpractice, according to Rondberg in Under the Influence of Modern Medicine, which makes it even more important for patients to protect themselves by looking into all possible avenues before going under the knife.
If you imagine for a moment being knocked out, sliced open and having a part of your body removed for no logical reason, it sounds more like a nightmare than a visit to the hospital. But that's what is happening to millions in American hospitals every year. We are having organs and body parts removed without reason, and for what? Why are we so willing to give our bodies over to a person wielding a very sharp knife and some very strong drugs? Maybe it's because we trust that our doctors will do what is best for us, since, after all, we don't have the medical training they do. But when it comes to your body and your health, it's okay to be skeptical and to want all the information you can get. The bottom line is: Surgery is not something to be taken lightly. When confronted with the suggestion that you need to go under the knife, it's important to remember that you have a choice. Don't just trust one doctor to know what's best for you. Get a second opinion. It could mean the difference between life and death.
The experts speak on unjustified surgery:
A definitive review and close reading of medical peer-review journals, and government health statistics shows that American medicine frequently causes more harm than good. The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually is 8.9 million.
Death By Medicine by Gary Null PhD, page 10
Annually, between 20 million and 25 million surgical procedures are carried out among all the specialties except plastic surgery. This study determined that between 15% and 29% were unnecessary. For example, 27% of the women who had hysterectomies, the second most common surgery, didn't need the operation! Health In The 21st Century by Fransisco Contreras MD, page 212
Despite what appears to be an attempt by the medical profession to keep that kind of information from the public, a few reports have surfaced which show clearly that the problem with unnecessary surgeries is not a thing of the past. In a 1995 report issued by Milliman & Robertson, Inc., titled "Analysis of Medically Unnecessary Inpatient Services," researchers David V. Axene, FSA and Richard Doyle, M.D., concluded that "the level of medically unnecessary use may actually be closer to 60%" (than their previously projected 53%). This included a variety of surgical procedures as well as associated services. That same year, the federal government's Agency for Health Care Policy Research (AHCPR) concluded that most back surgery was unnecessary. Back surgeons immediately began a campaign to abolish the agency. Other reports confirm this frightening statistic.
Under The Influence Modern Medicine by Terry A Rondberg DC, page 132
Women with urinary incontinence are often advised to get bladder surgery, even hysterectomies. But this drastic approach may be completely unnecessary, according to Dr. Hufnagel, who says that women need to be educated about more conservative treatments for this common everyday occurrence.
Womans Encyclopedia Of Natural Healing by Dr Gary Null, page 26
The Harvard University School of Public Health estimates that as many as 1.3 million Americans suffer disabling injuries in hospitals yearly, and 198,000 of those may result in death; 7 out of 10 of which were preventable (48% from faulty surgery), and 1/3 from negligence. Anti-Aging Manual by Joseph B Marion, page 100
Almost thirty years ago, in 1974, the Congressional Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce held hearings on unnecessary surgery. They found that 17.6% of recommendations for surgery were not confirmed by a second opinion. The House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations extrapolated these figures and estimated that, on a nationwide basis, there were 2.4 million unnecessary surgeries performed annually, resulting in 11,900 deaths at an annual cost of $3.9 billion.
Death By Medicine by Gary Null PhD, page 19
One surprising discovery in recent research is that smoking is the cause of 28 percent of urinary incontinence in women. Studies indicate that surgery and the use of pharmaceuticals are often unnecessary; other methods that have proven effective are behavioral techniques and biofeedback, Kegel exercises, which strengthen pelvic muscles, electrical stimulation of the pelvic floor, and acupuncture. A natural treatment, according to one study, can be extracted from the plant marshmallow; this helps incontinence by treating inflammation of the genito-urinary tract.
Womans Encyclopedia Of Natural Healing by Dr Gary Null, page 26
Unfortunately for millions each year, this may not be the case. They may instead be victims of powerful medical propaganda that makes every operation seem essential. But the reality is that unnecessary surgery, whether performed by doctors who operate out of ignorance, self-delusion, or simple greed has long plagued medicine and today still reaches epidemic proportions. The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 176
The unnecessary surgery figures are escalating just as prescription drugs driven by television advertising. Media-driven surgery such as gastric bypass for obesity "modeled" by Hollywood personalities seduces obese people to think this route is safe and sexy. There is even a problem of surgery being advertised on the Internet.76 A study in Spain declares that between 20 and 25% of total surgical practice represents unnecessary operations. Death By Medicine by Gary Null PhD, page 19
In his book, "Health Shock," journalist Martin Weitz reported that a 1974 Senate investigation into unnecessary surgery found that "American doctors performed 2.4 million unnecessary operations, causing 11,900 deaths and costing $3.9 billion." In 1982, Robert G. Schneider, M.D., calculated that between 15 and 25% of all surgeries were unnecessary — with that figure rising to 50-60% with some types of operations. In the case of tonsillectomies and hysterectomies, the percentage was as high as 40-80%.
Under The Influence Modern Medicine by Terry A Rondberg DC, page 131
Some studies suggest that almost 40 percent of surgical operations in the United States are unnecessary. When Healing Becomes A Crime by Kenny Ausubel, page 333
A 1987 JAMA study found the following significant levels of inappropriate surgery: 17% of cases for coronary angiography, 32% for carotid endarterectomy, and 17% for upper gastrointestinal tract endoscopy. Using the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) statistics provided by the government for 2001, the number of people getting upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, which usually entails biopsy, was 697,675; the number getting endarterectomy was 142,401; and the number having coronary angiography was 719,949.13 Therefore, according to the JAMA study 17%, or 118,604 people had an unnecessary endoscopy procedure. Endarterectomy occurred in 142,401 patients; potentially 32% or 45,568 did not need this procedure. And 17% of 719,949, or 122,391 people receiving coronary angiography were subjected to this highly invasive procedure unnecessarily. These are all forms of medical iatrogenesis. Death By Medicine by Gary Null PhD, page 20
Your best defense against an unnecessary hysterectomy? Information—and a second opinion, says Nora W. Coffey, president of Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services, an educational organization in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Educational organizations can supply information about the surgery. Woman's Encyclopedia by Denise Foley, page 219
Overlapping of statistics in Death by Medicine may occur with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) paper that designates "medical error" as including drugs, surgery, and unnecessary procedures. Since we have also included other statistics on adverse drug reactions, surgery and, unnecessary procedures, perhaps as much as 50% of the IOM number could be redundant. However, even taking away half the 98,000 IOM number still leaves us with iatrogenic events as the number one killer at 738,000 annual deaths. Death By Medicine by Gary Null PhD, page 10
When in doubt about the diagnosis or recommendation, don't hesitate to get a second opinion —or a second diagnostic test. Your best defense against an unnecessary hysterectomy is obtaining information before you meet with the doctor. Read books, find people who've had the surgery (or the alternatives), contact support groups, locate medical literature. And then show them to your doctor, says Nora W. Coffey, president of Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. "That's the way to get a doctor's cooperation, and not hostility." And take control in making the decision, she encourages. Get comprehensive information about the condition you have, your options and the risks and dangers of the options.
Woman's Encyclopedia by Denise Foley, page 222
Stressors create a field of disturbance in the energetic web of the body. These fields of disturbance are most often in the head, because the mouth is where we most readily allow thoughtless or unnecessary surgery, excessive procedures, and implantation of foreign materials. The results of the disturbance can be felt anywhere in the body and can virtually block any treatment's effectiveness. Whole Body Dentistry by Mark A Breiner DDS, page 159
Unwarranted Surgery and Heart Related Problems:
YOU DON'T HAVE TO DIE: Angioplasty and coronary artery bypass surgery are frequently unnecessary and produce no benefit to the patient at all. Some people endure multiple operations (one patient whose case is discussed in this book underwent 14 angioplasties) without result or their condition returns later. In addition, bypass surgery is dangerous, many people suffering strokes or other damage to their brain as a result of the operation. Heart Disease by Burton Goldberg, page 10
The bottom line is this: when patients are advised to have a coronary angiogram, chances are eight out of ten that they do not need it. The critical factor in whether a patient needs coronary artery bypass surgery or angioplasty is how well the left ventricular pump is working, not the degree of blockage or the number of arteries affected. The left ventricle (chamber) of the heart is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood through the aorta (the large artery emanating from the heart) and to the rest of the body. Bypass surgery is only helpful when the ejection fraction (the amount of blood pumped by the left ventricle) is less than forty percent of capacity. Up to ninety percent of all bypass procedures are done when the ejection fraction is greater than 50 percent, which is adequate for circulatory needs. In other words, as many as 90 percent of all bypass procedures may be unnecessary. Encyclopedia Of Natural Medicine by Michael T Murray MD Joseph L Pizzorno ND, page 243
Dr. Whitaker views most of the current therapies available to heart disease patients as needless and unjustified. Most are ineffective in terms of actually stopping and/or reversing the deterioration that has begun by the time the patient seeks treatment. Catheterization, for example, has insufficient scientific basis in Dr. Whitaker's opinion, yet thousands of catheterizations are done almost routinely. Catheterizations are used to detect arterial blockages and to open them up, often in conjunction with a balloon angioplasty or a bypass. The angioplasty technique, as explained earlier, is an invasive method of trying to force open blocked spots within the arteries, while bypass surgery involves severing the artery before the blockage and rerouting the blood flow through an unblocked vein taken from the leg. Get Healthy Now by Gary Null, page 411
Recent clinical and laboratory studies have seriously questioned the validity of the theory that a blocked coronary artery is the primary cause of a heart attack. The angiogram, an invasive test to evaluate coronary artery blockages, poses significant risks, and has often been discredited. In many cases, bypass surgery is considered unnecessary and dangerous. Healing Myths by Donald M Epstein, page 69
A team of conservative cardiologists in Brigham Hospital, Boston, evaluated 88 patients that had been scheduled for cardiac bypass surgery. They advised against surgery for 74 of the 88. Among those 74, 60 accepted a second opinion and didn't have the operation. These patients were followed for a period of two years plus. Only two had minor attacks that could be treated conservatively, an outcome comparable to that of the 14 (scared not to take the advise of the conservative specialists) patients that underwent open-heart surgery. In short, a vast number of patients are submitted to unnecessary procedures by cardiologists. Health In The 21st Century by Fransisco Contreras MD, page 212
A second opinion clinic was opened in Boston in 1982. The first published study from the clinic involved 88 patients who had been advised to have cabbage surgery elsewhere on the basis of ordinary angiograms. Some had been referred by insurance carriers who were hoping to get out of paying some large bills. Large insurance companies are well aware that about 85 percent of cabbages are unnecessary, and teach this fact during private seminars for their executives. However, they don't make this public.
Heart Frauds by Charles T McGee MD, page 36
On the brighter side, several studies have confirmed it is possible to evaluate heart patients with non-invasive means and identify people who will do well with medical management alone. In the best of all worlds, this should become the wave of the future. But this will never occur as long as these crises situations remain under the control of people who are becoming rich by doing unnecessary surgical procedures.
Heart Frauds by Charles T McGee MD, page 39
Three of these studies were published in leading medical journals. No efforts were made to attract media attention to the embarrassing results. If the media had picked up the story they could have accurately reported, "The diagnostic test used to scare the pants off heart disease patients and coerce them into billions of dollars of unnecessary surgical procedures is a scam." The information was ignored by physicians and never picked up by the press. Heart Frauds by Charles T McGee MD, page 14
I have attacked myths about heart disease that cost Americans billions of dollars per year in unnecessary surgical procedures, as well as untold suffering. The list of abuses can start with the widespread use of inaccurate angiograms that are used to plan surgical procedures. People are conditioned to expect to live longer if they have cabbage surgery, but survival rates are not improved with surgery. The system encourages doctors who are learning to do balloon angioplasties to practice on people who don't need any surgical procedure. Long term survival after balloon angioplasty has never been studied. The cholesterol theory is an empty shell. These approaches to our number one killer disease represent a fraud against the people more often than not.
Heart Frauds by Charles T McGee MD, page 161
For example, bypass surgery for heart disease, at an average cost of $44,000 per operation, is "one of the most unnecessary operations of all," says McTaggart. Heart surgeons have known since the 1970s that bypass does not improve survival except for patients with severe left ventricle coronary disease, while U.S. government statistics state that about 90% of patients receive no benefit. The "miracle cure" of beta blockers to lower high blood pressure (hypertension) also evaporates when you look at the outcomes, McTaggart says. A British study of 2,000 patients with high blood pressure showed that in barely 50% of the cases blood pressure dropped to a moderately healthy level as a result of taking hypertension drugs. Heart Disease by Burton Goldberg, page 23
Yet when faced •with heart disease, doctors recommend a bypass. By so doing, we think, they bypass the real problem. Bypasses are the single most commonly performed unnecessary surgery in the country. Only two groups have been shown to benefit from bypass surgery: one, those whose arteries are so badly clogged that the heart can no longer beat adequately, and two, those with severe blockage in the main artery to the heart and signs of resulting poor blood flow.
Ultraprevention by Mark Hyman MD and Mark Liponis MD, page 68
Pierce now knew the research in the field of nonlocal medicine inside and out. She was amazed that many physicians ignored the evidence. Their reasons, she suspected, were rooted in the tendency of humans to hang onto what is familiar and comfortable. Many physicians, for example, continued to do coronary bypass surgery the old way, opening up the chest cavity, instead of using the new percutaneous fiberoptic methods that made open-chest surgery unnecessary. Reinventing Medicine by Larry Dossey MD, page 184
The departments of health of each state should conduct a study, at least every two years, on the success of such common operations as bypass surgery and angioplasty, as does New York State. In addition, they should publish risk-adjusted figures on breast cancer recovery and other common illnesses, along with the rates of unnecessary surgery as compiled by an independent board of surgeons. The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 99
Unnecessary Bypass Operations Coronary cirtery bypass operations have had a better record than the neck artery surgery. Earlier studies of the heart operation—in 1979,1980, and 1982—also showed some evidence of surgical mayhem. Fourteen percent of the surgeries were "inappropriate" or unnecessary, defined as "performing the procedure under circumstances where the medical risk exceeded the medical benefits." The fourteen percent was high, but much less than the carotid surgical extravagance. But the unnecessary rate for bypass operations has now been reduced considerably by new techniques and better choices by patients. The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 189
An outspoken critic is Thomas A. Preston, professor of medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle. Preston claims fully one half of all cabbage surgeries performed in the United States are unnecessary. He says that survival rates are basically the same as with medical management, except for a well-defined minority of patients, and in most cases cabbage surgery is no more effective than a placebo.
Heart Frauds by Charles T McGee MD, page 32
Race has been found to play a role in who gets cabbaged and who does not. Nationally the rate of having a cabbage surgery runs 27.1 per 10,000 whites per year, and only 7.6 per 10,000 blacks. Hospital admission rates for coronary artery disease for the two races are the same. The authors concluded that racial prejudice appears to influence cabbage surgery rates. There is another way of viewing this study. Black people with coronary artery disease are being spared a lot of unnecessary heart surgery because of racial discrimination. Heart Frauds by Charles T McGee MD, page 35
These unusual treatments may make open-heart surgery unnecessary for many heart patients. If your doctor recommends angioplasty or bypass surgery for your angina, ask him about these new options before making a decision.
Natural Cures And Gentle Medicines by The Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing, page 23
Unjustified Surgery - Hysterectomy:
Hysterectomy: A hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) is another risk factor for early osteoporosis, even if the ovaries are still intact. "This is because anywhere between 16% and 57% of all women who undergo uterus removal suffer from premature loss of ovarian function with its associated rapid bone loss," explains Dr. Brown.24 Unfortunately, this surgery, a conventional medical solution for uterine fibroids and endometriosis, is all too common among premenopausal women. Every year in the U.S., 750,000 women undergo hysterectomies (many including ovary removal); about 90% of these are unnecessary.
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 841
Hysterectomy may also be performed after cesarean section in cases of complications such as uncontrolled bleeding, gross infection, or cancer of the cervix. Once misused in the belief that removing the uterus (and often the ovaries) would control what were considered inappropriate sexual urges and ambitions, it is still the most common unnecessary surgery. Britannica Encyclopedia Volume One, page 901
Nearly half of all hysterectomies performed in the United States are medically unnecessary. According to the People's Medical Society, in 1970 one in twenty babies was delivered by Cesarean section rather than normal vaginal childbirth. Today, one in four babies is delivered by Cesarean section. (Interestingly, both surgeries are performed on women.)
How to get out of the hospital alive by Sheldon P Blau MD FACP FACR, page 142
Many people question the fact that over 650,000 hysterectomies are performed in the United States each year. Very few of these operations are performed because of a life-threatening situation, and it is likely that many of them are actually unnecessary. Per capita, half as many hysterectomies are performed in Great Britain as in the United States, and, statistically, American women show no health benefits for their higher incidence of surgery. Outside the United States, very few hysterectomies are performed for what doctors often term "quality of life" reasons. Prescription For Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A Balch CNC and James F Balch MD, page 453
Obviously, despite the shortage of reports from the medical profession itself, the problem of unnecessary surgeries is still a serious one. Yet, ironically, unnecessary surgery normally is not considered medical malpractice. According to "Medicine on Trial," a People's Medical Society book: "When greed controls the impulse to operate when an operation is not called for, as is often the case in unnecessary surgery, such an operation is certainly a grossly unethical and immoral act, but not a medical mistake per se." The ultimate solution is prevention. But when, as a last resort, surgery must be considered, patients need to have full and honest information about the risks and benefits involved in the procedure.
Under The Influence Modern Medicine by Terry A Rondberg DC, page 132
UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MODERN MEDICINE lions of unnecessary hysterectomies yet it is still the most frequent surgical procedure inflicted on females. Under The Influence Modern Medicine by Terry A Rondberg DC, page 128
She also found that patients play a part in unnecessary surgery. When they voiced objections to a hysterectomy for such conditions as painful fibroids, doctors tended to change their opinion that the operation was necessary. The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 182
One of the most outspoken critics of unnecessary surgery is Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen. "If a doctor immediately says, 'Have a hysterectomy/ shop for a new physician," he suggests. "You need tests to write off all the alternatives." The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 181
Unwarranted Surgery – Cesarean Section:
In 2001, Cesarean section is still the most common OB/GYN surgical procedure. Approximately 4 million births occur annually, with a 24% C-Section rate, i.e., 960,000 operations. In the Netherlands only 8% of babies are delivered by Cesarean section. Assuming human babies are similar in the U.S. and in the Netherlands, we are performing 640,000 unnecessary C-Sections in the U.S. with its three to four times higher mortality and 20 times greater morbidity than vaginal delivery.105 Death By Medicine by Gary Null PhD, page 25
Research has indicated that cesarean sections, as well as being associated with greater risks to mother and infant, are often unnecessary. Get Healthy Now by Gary Null, page 706
Unnecessary surgery referred to the modern rash of cesareans as a "surgical epidemic." Calling on understatement, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists admits that C-sections "are more common than they should be." An actual estimate, made by the Centers for Disease Control, says that 349,000 of the cesarean surgeries were unnecessary. This is a serious situation. The operation is major surgery, and when inappropriate, carries two to four times greater risk to the mother than normal vaginal birth.
The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 184
This is a serious situation. The operation is major surgery, and when inappropriate, carries two to four times greater risk to the mother than normal vaginal birth. Public Citizen, which puts out a regular report on the rate of C-sections, believes the surgery is done almost twice as often as medically indicated, at a cost of an extra $1.3 billion and unnecessary pain and injury. The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 184
Just as one surgical operation—like tonsillectomy—is shot down by intelligent criticism, another, like C-section, rises to take its place in the inventory of often unnecessary surgeries. It is now up to the profession—or if forced, the states—to stop the excess cutting stimulated by either greed, medical fashion, or ignorance. That is the only way to protect the unknowing patient public. Chapter VI
The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 191
Women who have their babies without CNMs are also more likely to be denied room to walk around during labor to ease their discomfort, more likely to be denied the use of a bath or shower during their labor, and more likely to undergo unnecessary cesarean surgery.
Under The Influence Modern Medicine by Terry A Rondberg DC, page 125
Multiple Types of Surgery Mentioned:
In 1985 the U.S. Senate's Special Committee on Aging found that unnecessary operations (most for hernias, hemorrhoids, gallstones, enlarged prostates, heart disease and similar conditions), far from helping patients were actually shortening their lives and wasting money — billions of dollars. The committee found that operations increased 130 percent after Medicare went into effect. The American College of Surgeons and the American surgical Association suggested that 30 percent of the millions of operations being performed each year were unnecessary with 50 percent of the remaining procedures beneficial but not essential to save or extend the patient's life. In all, it was thought that the needless and dubious operations were causing an unnecessary thirty thousand deaths per year. The unnecessary expenses and deaths become noticeable when doctors are in short supply or go on strike. In such cases the death rate in an area can drop remarkably — much to the embarrassment of the medical community (when the facts can't be covered up). Attaining Medical Self Sufficiency An Informed Citizens Guide by Duncan Long, page 9
1974: 2.4 million unnecessary surgeries performed annually resulting in 11,900 deaths at an annual cost of $3.9 billion. 2001: 7.5 million unnecessary surgical procedures resulting in 37,136 deaths at a cost of $122 billion (using 1974 dollars). It's very difficult to obtain accurate statistics when studying unnecessary surgery. Dr. Leape in 1989 wrote that perhaps 30% of controversial surgeries are unnecessary. Controversial surgeries include Cesarean section, tonsillectomy, appendectomy, hysterectomy, gastrectomy for obesity, breast implants, and elective breast implants. Death By Medicine by Gary Null PhD, page 19
Myriad of reasons—mix-up of X rays and patient charts, surgeons' haste to "beat their time" doing a procedure, poorly trained surgeons, and unnecessary surgeries, especially hysterectomies (nearly half are unnecessary), coronary bypass operations (one out of every three may be unnecessary), and Cesarean sections. In addition, the area of the country in which you live plays an important part in the type of surgery you will undergo. How to get out of the hospital alive by Sheldon P Blau MD FACP FACR, page 140
Hysterectomies. American Health also reported in April 1993 that the chance that a woman in Maine will undergo a hysterectomy varies from 20% to 70%, depending on where in the state she lives. Local preference, not science, explains the disparity. In general, the reason for most hysterectomies is to resolve symptoms related to benign uterine fibroids. New studies show that if they aren't causing any serious and immediate symptoms, surgery is unnecessary. Cesarean sections. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that in 1991 some 349,900 unnecessary cesarean sections were performed, at a cost of more than $1 billion. The rate skyrocketed from 10.4% of births in 1975 to 24.5% in 1988. Again, the issue isn't just money, although $ 1 billion would pay for a lot of health care for those who don't have it. Surgery can lead to infections and longer hospital stays. The Consumer Bible by Mark Green, page 70
On the other hand, studies show that particular areas of the country as well as specific hospitals within a community often are more likely to perform operations that may be unnecessary—such as tonsillectomies, hysterectomies, and cesareans—than others. If you're assigned to a particular physician's group or hospital where the standard of care mandates surgery rather than more conservative treatment, demand a second opinion.
How to get out of the hospital alive by Sheldon P Blau MD FACP FACR, page 194
Myringotomies are currently being performed on nearly 1,000,000 American children each year. It appears that the unnecessary surgery of the past, the tonsillectomy, has been replaced by this new procedure. In fact there is a direct correlation between the decline of the tonsillectomy and the rise of the myringotomy. Over 2 million myringotomy tubes are inserted into children's ears each year, along with 600,000 tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies. These surgeries are unnecessary for most children. Textbook of Natural Medicine Volumes 1-2 by Joseph E Pizzorno and Michael T Murray, page 1465
Unjustified Surgery due to Back Pain:
Unnecessary surgery waxes and wanes. First one operation, like tonsillectomy, is in fashion, then another, like C-sections. The most recent "in" technique is "back surgery." The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 184
A forceful critic of much back surgery is Dr. Richard A. Deyo, professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He points out that most low back pain is caused by a simple muscle strain, which over time heals itself. It is not, he says, usually caused by herniated disks in the spine, which are the target of most surgeries. Dr. Deyo estimates that "diskectomy," the name of such surgery, is performed on 300,000 people a year, and is often a wasteful, unnecessary activity. A diskectomy involves cutting through the bony parts of the vertebrae to remove the jellylike substance inside. The reason is that in herniated disks, the substance protrudes, putting pressure on the nerves. The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 185
Dr. Deyo, writing in the journal Spine, says America is undergoing an unnecessary back surgery epidemic of such proportions that surgeons here perform diskectomies forty percent more often than other Western nations and five times more often than in England and Scotland. It also appears that the number of back surgeries relates directly to the number of appropriate surgeons available in the nation according to population. In the same publication, Dr. Deyo and others also studied hospitalization for back pain and found that from 1979 to 1990, nonsurgical hospitalizations decreased dramatically. Meanwhile, admissions for surgery increased.
The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 185
Orthopedic doctors, who specialize in injuries related to the muscles, joints, bones, tendons, and ligaments, are often inexperienced with conservative methods of treatment and are sometimes too willing to engage in unnecessary surgery. The problem is that surgery has limited long-range benefits and is completely unnecessary for many lower back pain sufferers. When confronted with pain caused by a factor that does not show up on an X ray, an orthopedist will generally refer the patient to another professional. If you are going to an orthopedic specialist for advice on back pain, it is recommended that you see one who does not reflexively advocate surgery or prolonged reliance on prescription drugs. Complete Encyclopedia Of Natural Healing by Gary Null PhD, page 63
In 2001, the top 50 medical and surgical procedures totaled approximately 41.8 million. These figures were taken from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project within the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Using 17.6% from the 1974 U.S. Congressional House Subcommittee Oversight Investigation as the percentage of unnecessary surgical procedures, and extrapolating from the death rate in 1974, we come up with an unnecessary procedure number of 7.5 million (7,489,718) and a death rate of 37,136, at a cost of $122 billion (using 1974 dollars). Researchers performed a very similar analysis, using the 1974 'unnecessary surgery percentage' of 17.6, on back surgery. In 1995, researchers testifying before the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that of 250,000 back surgeries in the U.S. at a hospital cost of $11,000 per patient, the total number of unnecessary back surgeries each year in the U.S. could approach 44,000, costing as much as $484 million.
Death By Medicine by Gary Null PhD, page 19
They studied the surgical treatment for the common complaint of "low back pain," and concluded that most of the operations were unnecessary. In fact, says the agency, the less treatment for these pains, surgical or medical, the better. A report in the New England Journal of Medicine, for instance, decried the use of corticosteroids as risky and of little value. The evidence, says the federal agency, shows that regular activity rather than bed rest reduces the chances of developing a chronic condition that leads to surgery. The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 186
The findings of the MRIs are often misleading and lead to "unnecessary surgery and the results are not very good," Froymeyer said. Another expert, Robert Boyd, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said, "surgery doesn't put new backs in and it doesn't give better long-term results. It is indicated when pain doesn't respond to conservative treatment and is clearly associated with nerve root compression. Then the results of surgery are excellent." But only a small percentage of people with back pain fall into this category, according to Boyd.
The Miracle Of MSM by Stanley W Jacob, page 102
Unwarranted Surgery due to Results of Mammography:
Mammograms Add to Cancer Risk—Mammography exposes the breast to damaging ionizing radiation. High Rate of False Positives—Mammography's high rate of false-positive test results wastes money and creates unnecessary emotional trauma. A Swedish study of 60,000 women, aged 40-64, who were screened for breast cancer revealed that of the 726 actually referred to oncologists for treatment, 70% were found to be cancer free. According to The Lancet, of the 5% of mammograms that suggest further testing, up to 93% are false positives. The Lancet report further noted that because the great majority of positive screenings are false positives, these inaccurate results lead to many unnecessary biopsies and other invasive surgical procedures. In fact, 70% to 80% of all positive mammograms do not, on biopsy, show any presence of cancer. According to some estimates, 90% of these "callbacks" result from unclear readings due to dense overlying breast tissue. High Rate of False Negatives—Mammography also produces a high rate of false-negative test results. While false
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 588
Breast Cancer type of abnormality found and the age of the woman. Usually the follow-up tests begin with the least invasive methods, such as an ultrasound or second mammogram, and progress, if necessary, to the more invasive methods, such as a needle or surgical biopsy. A biopsy should spare the tissue, removing just enough tissue to make a diagnosis without being unnecessarily invasive. A woman should not rush from one abnormal screening mammogram or clinical breast exam to a major, invasive surgical procedure or to treatment for breast cancer. Following the series of tests outlined below can ensure that the diagnosis is correct and assist in avoiding unnecessary procedures.
Disease Prevention And Treatment by Life Extension Foundation, page 30
Early detection is currently one of the primary strategies for prevention and successful treatment, which is why the breast self-exam is so important. The benefits of mammography are still a subject of debate. Questions that are still present include whether low-level radiation used in the test can contribute to cancer, whether equivocal results lead to unnecessary surgery, and the accuracy rate of test results.
Treating Cancer With Herbs by Michael Tierra ND, page 467
Equivocal mammogram results lead to unnecessary surgery, and the accuracy rate of mammograms is poor. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), in women ages 40-49, there is a high rate of "missed tumors," resulting in 40% false-negative mammogram results. Breast tissue in younger women is denser, which makes it more difficult to detect tumors, and tumors grow more quickly in younger women, so cancer may develop between screenings. Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 973
Corruption and Unjustified Surgery ($):
Doctors and hospitals are paid more for doing more, largely without regard for evidence of improved health outcomes (examples are the rapid increase in the number of MRI machines, excess capacity for neonatology and invasive cardiac procedures that lead to excess use, and the approximately 12,000 deaths that occur each year as the result of unnecessary surgery). Health care providers that deliver high quality, efficient care are financially penalized for not delivering a higher volume of more intensive services, beneficial or not (referred to as the "perverse incentive"). Overdosed America by John Abramson MD, page 256
We could do much more to lower costs, such as practicing scientifically based medicine, but it's like combating an epidemic. There is such a strong incentive, as with the pharmaceutical industry and surgical subspecialists, to keep prices—and profits or incomes—high. It will likely require a major change in how we organize health care in America to effect any meaningful change. If we were really to practice scientifically based medicine, the cost savings would be great. We order and do so many unnecessary tests and procedures, and our prescribing patterns are illogical and expensive.
Health Care Meltdown by Robert H Lebow MD, page 57
Most health problems are not emergencies. To treat them as though they were chronic, recurrent emergencies, which is the way medicine is often practiced today, is costly, time consuming and generally ineffective. It causes many problems, often more than it relieves, and these are sometimes deadly. Side effects of medications kill more people annually than automobile accidents. Unnecessary surgery (heart disease and other conditions) has significant mortality while it also drives up health care costs. This approach to health care also takes the power and responsibility for your health out of your control. The Vitamin Revolution by Michael Janson, page 200
Clinical care, which was improving, is now being subject to new rules, systems, and regulations from the outside, which punish both good medicine and good doctors. Surgery is still too often unnecessary. Medical fraud, always a small problem, has become near epidemic. American hospitals are adrift, struggling against empty beds, fierce competition, and massive confusion.
The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 254
Surgery is similarly a vastly lucrative practice, acting as the third financial mooring in the tripod of cancer treatments. The more radical the operation, the more costly. Since surgeons are rewarded monetarily for the magnitude of their handiwork, excess becomes a perverse incentive for financial success. The amount of unnecessary surgery is high. As early as 1953, Dr. Paul Hawley, director of the American College of Surgeons, stated matter-of-factly in an interview in U.S. News and World Report, "You'd be shocked, I think—we are—at the amount of unnecessary surgery that is performed." The reason, according to Hawley? "Money." When Healing Becomes A Crime by Kenny Ausubel, page 268
This truth has been deliberately concealed from the general public. According to Dr. Gould, the reason for this conspiracy of silence is money. The public must continue to see the cancer establishment as a winner to continue providing money. One of the quoted scientists said that, with tens of thousands of radiologists and millions of dollars in equipment, one still gives radiation treatment even if study after study shows that it does more harm than good. Dr. Gould says patients who could be comfortable without medical treatment until their inevitable death are made miserable with medical treatment in a pointless attempt to postpone death for a few unhappy weeks. Of course, that is when most of the money is being made. Dr. Gould says doctors poison their patients with drugs and rays and mutilate them with unnecessary surgery in a desperate attempt to treat the untreatable. The Natural Way to Heal by Walter Last, page 320
Unnecessary surgery: With appendicitis produced only two "false positives," patients who did not have the disease. This is in contrast to the twenty percent proven to have healthy appendixes after surgery. The technique, called "Focused Appendix CT" or FACT, could eliminate this type of unnecessary surgery—at least in the hands of honest surgeons. Unlike other doctors, surgeons are not content to live on forty dollars per patient visit. Many still see the operating table as a chance for the brass ring—the new SL600 Mercedes coupe for $139,000, or even the down payment on a piece of land in Southampton or Malibu.
The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 180
Rufer and her husband sued Abbott Laboratories, UWMC, and the cancer specialist who treated her. UWMC and the doctor argued that they had relied on the Abbott test results. Abbott denied all responsibility, even though the literature distributed with its tests made no mention of the potential for false positives. What's more, according to a court opinion, it turned out that "Abbott also had access to reports that false positive results on its assay led to unnecessary cancer treatment before 1998. It received over forty complaints of false positives, including multiple complaints of unnecessary chemotherapy and surgery before Jennifer Rufer's first treatment in April 1998.
Critical condition by Donald L Barlett and James B Steele, page 63
Although it embraces new technology, the medical profession has a tendency to reject new ideas. Surgeons are willing to learn new ways of performing operations, although few seem eager to examine possible alternatives to surgery. Much of this can of course be explained by the fact that research into surgery is normally performed by surgeons. Their training and experience does not lend itself to looking into other options. Cardiac surgeons, for instance, would be unlikely to work at a project that would prove that most heart operations are unnecessary or dangerous. That conclusion would not only put their livelihood at risk, but also invalidate their entire vocation. The only people in the operating room who have a clear reason for wanting the truth are the patients on the tables. But if we wait until that moment to learn the truth, it might be too late.
Under The Influence Modern Medicine by Terry A Rondberg DC, page 131
Anesthesiologists benefit from bypass surgery. In medical slang anesthesiologists are called gas passers. Anesthesiologists use measured amounts of poisons to put surgical patients to sleep and, hopefully, wake them up. They bill patients by the hour. Each cabbage case may take about two to three hours of their time. They have nothing to do with the decision to do surgery, but you don't hear any of them making waves by complaining about unnecessary surgery. To do so would jeopardize their standing in the anesthesia department and their livelihoods. Heart Frauds by Charles T McGee MD, page 53
About 300,000 men per year have surgery to correct enlarged prostates, but many of those surgeries may be unnecessary. There are many natural remedies that you can find in health food stores that will shrink your prostate, if BPH is the cause. (Note: Only a doctor can tell the difference between BPH and prostate cancer, so get a firm diagnosis before you go ahead with natural remedies). Proven Health Tips Encyclopedia By American Medical Publishing, page 136
But religious considerations aside, circumcision has caught on among non-Jews in the United States. The operation has been the center of a medical debate: Does it provide health benefits, or is it unnecessary surgery? Healthcare Online for Dummies by Howard and Judi Wolinsky, page 200
Surgery has come under increasing criticism in recent years for a number of other reasons. Some doctors and patients hold that much cancer surgery is either unnecessary or excessive in its scope. The fiercest argument has taken place over the question of breast cancer, but the issues raised in this debate appear applicable to other forms of cancer as well. The Cancer Industry by Ralph W Moss, page 49
Surgery is unnecessary when the risk is greater than the benefit, or when there is no strong evidence that the surgery will benefit most of the people operated on. The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 186
Going under the knife. One explanation for high U.S. medical costs is that so much surgery is unnecessary. Ask for a plain-English explanation of the need for and alternatives to any surgery. The Hope of Living Cancer Free by Francisco Contreras MD, page 114
The innocuous behavior of recurring tumors is a mystery. Some surgeons think that leaving a few cancerous cells to roam about after surgery is a deadly mistake. Others believe that these cells simply turn into tumors that can be removed without threatening the life of the patient. Still, many leaders in the field of oncological surgery, either out of fear or arrogance, continue to demand that more studies be conducted before modifying the traditional treatments. How many patients will become the innocent victims of this irrational posturing? The same tendencies have also been observed in other types of tumors. For example, sarcomas are tumors that generally form from muscle or fat in the extremities. Treatment of them always consists of an extensive amputation followed by radiation therapy, with the object of reducing the incidence of recurrence. After reviewing the experiences of numerous hospitals, one concludes that "a reduction of local recurrence does not mean a betterment of average life expectancy in the long run." In other words, the frightening mutilations are entirely unnecessary. The same conclusions can be applied to melanoma a very aggressive skin cancer, which is generally treated with excessively radical surgery.
Health In The 21st Century by Fransisco Contreras MD, page 196
The indiscriminate, and often unnecessary, surgical removal of these glands does not solve the underlying immunological problem that caused them to be swollen and diseased in the first place. Often, after a short period of improvement, it leads to chronic allergy problems. If the microorganisms get past the tonsils and adenoids, ciliated microfilaments lining the upper passages of the lungs remove them in secreted phlegm; they do this in a wavelike fashion, much like firemen of an earlier time on a bucket brigade.
Viral Immunity by J.E, page 90
The common carotid endarterectomy surgery is designed to prevent a full-fledged stroke. But is it often overused and unnecessary, especially when there is insufficient diagnosis.
The Medical Racket by Martin L Gross, page 187
In fact, because of the high potential for false positive readings—where people are told they have cancer when they don't—screening may only be increasing the number of patients mutilated through unnecessary drug treatment or surgery. The Cancer Handbook by Lynne McTaggart, page 12
Doctors differ considerably in their approval of this "nontreatment." Naturally the more surgery-prone physicians lean in the direction of early removal of the prostate, while the more conservative ones tell us that for any man whose life expectancy is less than 10 years, the surgery may offer only unnecessary discomfort and incapacity. The Prostate Cure by Harry G Preuss MD and Brenda D Adderly MHA, page 184
Alvsborg County Council felt the costs of a mass-screening program far outweighed any benefits, and that the money saved could be better spent helping those diagnosed with cancer. The council voted for the ban, following advice from the county's chief physician, Dr. Christer Enkvist, who felt that the advantages of screening are "extremely marginal" and can lead to unnecessary surgery. The Cancer Handbook by Lynne McTaggart, page 60
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