How to Protect Yourself against Unnecessary Medical Procedures

Americans spend an estimated 1 trillion annually on unnecessary medical treatments.

The Doctors look at the recent example from spine surgeon Dr. Aria Sabit, who had 24 lawsuits filed against him by 14 patients who claimed they received bogus back surgery from him. Authorities also claim that Dr. Sabit stole 11 million from insurance companies and received $440,000 in kickbacks from a medical device company. Dr. Sabit was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his alleged crimes.

Could something similar happen to you?

Watch: Doctor Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud

Orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. Hooman M. Melamed, who is in the same field as Dr. Sabit, tells The Doctors that while this case is horrifying that this does not happen as often as you might think. Dr. Melamed explains that one problem at contributes to an unnecessary medical procedure is when a doctor is incentivized to perform a procedure or use a certain device, something ER physician Dr. Travis Stork takes issue with.

“How did we get to the point where it’s driven by the all mighty dollar, instead of what is in the best interest of the patient?” an impassioned Dr. Stork says. “We have a healthcare crisis in this country… your hospitals, a lot of them, are for-profit. They don’t worry about you and your healthcare outcome. They worry about how much money they are going to make off of you as a patient. And I’m telling the truth and it’s a travesty!”

The Doctors stress that the vast majority of surgeons and physicians act in the best interests of their patients, but they share ways in which you can protect yourself in the event you come across a doctor whose intentions might not be in the best interest of the patient.

Watch: Doctor Arrested for Insurance Fraud

Dr. Melamed stresses the importance of patient education prior or surgery. He recommends visiting the surgery facility or hospital prior to having surgery. “Talk to the nurses, the nurses have seen it all… they can talk to you about the outcome and give you their honest belief about what is going on,” he explains. He also encourages patients to get at least 3 references from a doctor.

Dr. Stork says a major red flag is when a medical professional’s first suggestion is an extremely expensive or difficult procedure without offering any other alternatives. He says this is a sign that you may want to see a different doctor. As always, The Doctors encourage getting multiple opinions before undergoing a costly or intense procedure. 

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