Unnecessary Surgical Procedures

Local Scandal Highlights Growing Health Care Concern

On April 16, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois announced that two senior executives and four physicians affiliated with Chicago’s Sacred Heart Hospital were arrested for allegedly conspiring to pay and receive illegal kickbacks, as well as allegedly performing medically unnecessary sedation, intubation and tracheotomy procedures (tracheotomies involve several risks associated with cutting a hole in a patient’s throat to improve airflow).

Furthermore, the FBI and the Inspector General are reportedly probing claims that the physicians performed a number of the unnecessary intubations and tracheotomies because they provided substantial insurance reimbursement income for the hospital. Investigators already are asserting that an administrator of the hospital has recorded the CEO stating that tracheotomies are the facility’s “biggest money maker,” providing $160,000 in income per procedure if the patient stays for 27 days  thereafter.

According to a U.S. Attorney’s Office press release, the administrator also recorded a physician who acknowledged that the hospital lacked policies for intubations and tracheotomies, unlike other hospitals that have careful practice and procedure guidelines to insure proper care.

U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro hinted that more arrests would be coming, noting that a government affidavit from an uncharged doctor attested to his knowledge of 28 tracheotomy procedures performed in just the last few years, with five patients dying within two weeks of surgery (more than triple the statewide mortality rate).

Sadly, this phenomenon of unnecessary surgery is not limited to Sacred Heart Hospital. Dr. Gary Null, author of “Death by Medicine,” has estimated that 7.5 million unnecessary surgical procedures are performed each year, most frequently involving:

Author Terry Rondberg, who wrote “Under the Influence of Modern Medicine,” has similarly concluded that more than half of all surgeries performed are medically unnecessary.

If you have had a surgical procedure, and are not sure if it was necessary, you might have a legal claim against the physician and other defendants involved in the procedure, even if you did not suffer any long-term adverse consequences. Recoverable damages from an unnecessary procedure can include:

  • The cost of surgery;
  • Post-operative expenses and income loss during recovery;
  • Non-economic damages, such as emotional distress; and
  • Potentially punitive damages, under certain circumstances.

If your consent to surgery was not properly given or was obtained under false pretenses, you might have a claim for medical malpractice and/or battery, depending on the circumstances.

If you think that you or someone you love has suffered through an unnecessary surgical procedure, you can call our office for assistance at (312) 477-2500, and we will arrange for you to speak with one of our qualified personal injury attorneys. We can help you determine if and how you might have been harmed, and what damages and remedies you can pursue. You can also check out our Website for more information about our law firm, Cogan & Power, P.C.