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More News on Unnecessary Heart Procedures

by Colin Carmichael

Today brings more news on unnecessary heart procedures.

Lawnwood Regional Medical Center

News on unnecessary heart procedures in hospital ER's.

Yesterday, I wrote a post to let you know about the new list of "commonly used but not always necessary tests and procedures" released from the American College of Cardiology.

And today the New York Times is reporting some very troubling news of a rash of unnecessary heart procedures that apparently put many patients lives at risk.

The investigation and controversy centers around the hospital giant, HCA Holdings Inc. (HCA).

The story starts in 2010 when a nurse at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, Florida sent a letter to the chief ethics officer of HCA. The nurse, C.T. Tomlinson, was troubled by seeing heart procedures performed on patient who didn't seem to need them.

One memo written by a company ethics officer and reviewed by The New York Times, confirmed Tomlinson's allegations.

Several frightening incidents are reported in which patients with no significant heart disease are administered procedures (including stent insertion) that weren't needed. Some requiring additional emergency treatment to save the patients life.

Based on the internal documents reviewed by The New York Times, there were no indications of just how many patients were harmed or even died as a result of one of these procedures. But the findings do suggest that the problems extend past just one or two unethical doctors.

What Should You Do?

It's more important than ever to be educated about your body and health care to avoid unnecessary prescriptions and treatments.

Everyday, patients with higher than so-called normal cholesterol levels are told to start on cholesterol-lowering drugs as a first option, instead of a last resort.

What makes the HCA case so concerning is that many of these unnecessary procedures were done in situations inside an emergency room. In other words, there wasn't time for the patient to ask clarifying questions or to get an all-important 2nd opinion.

HCA Holdings, Inc. reported 2nd quarter 2012 revenues of $8.1 billion.

References:
> Hospital Chain Inquiry Cited Unnecessary Cardiac Work – NYTimes.com (August 6, 2012)
> HCA Reports Second Quarter 2012 Results


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