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Patients are getting unnecessary heart implants, study finds

Thousands of U.S. patients are affected


 

Thousands of patients are being implanted with high-tech heart devices they probably don’t even need, and might even harm them unnecessarily, according to a new study reported in the New York Times. The devices are called defibrillators, and fire an electric shock to jolt the heart into a normal rhythm in case it starts beating in a disorderly way, which can cause death. About 100,000 are implanted each year in the U.S., in procedures that can cost over $35,000 and involve surgery and anesthesia. Researchers looked at the records of 111,707 people who got implants at 1,227 hospitals in the U.S. from 2006 to 2009, and found that more than 25,000 people (22.5 per cent of all who got them) didn’t match the guidelines of professional societies that specify when they should be used. Most of these patients were 64 to 68, and for unknown reasons, blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to get defibrillators they probably didn’t need. At some centres, over 40 per cent of devices were implanted into patients outside the guidelines.

New York Times


 
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Patients are getting unnecessary heart implants, study finds

  1. It's all about money.

  2. People can complain about the Canadian system but you will not see this happening here. I had a colleague whose parent was earmarked for cardiac surgery in the US only to return to Canada and be told the surgery was not required. The Canadian surgeons were right. No matter what you think of our system, we have the best educated people in the world working in our hospitals. They are also highly ethical.

    • Well, they aren't incentivized to be unethical, like their American counterparts. I just mean to say it is easier to be ethical when you've got nothing to lose by it, no matter who you are. I mean no disrespect to our hospital staff.

      • It isn't that American doctors are "incentivized" to be unethical. Drug companies in the US provide all kinds of incentives to doctors to try their drugs and new medical procedures.

        Guess what? Sometimes they work. Who would have thought that a rat poison, Warin, might also be effective in preventing blood clots in cardiac patients? But doctors prescribe Warin very frequently for heart patients in the US.

        The big hurdle that Barack Obama faces in the US is in convincing people that a system like what we have in Canada would be more cost effective than what the US has now.

        But is it? Canadians are very passionate about health care, but few Americans in favour of Obama Care would want to use a Canadian as a reference.

        Two dirty little secrets:

        1) roughly 15 per cent of all people in Canada (about the same as Americans who have no health insurance) have no primary care physician.
        2) Canadians who can afford it go to the US for treatment.

        Should Canada do away with national health like the Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington DC want?

        No, but let's acknowledge the problems. There are lots of problems, and we shouldn't get to smug about it just because the Americans seem to be struggling more than we are.

        • Good points, but I was referring to the need of hospitals to provide surgeries for profit. If the hospital doesn't keep its operating rooms running, it doesn't keep its surgeons. There's the incentive from the surgeon's point of view. That is not to say that Canada's entire health care system is perfect, but this is one problem we don't have.

    • The best of the defibrillators installed in America are of Canadian manufacture. I know because I have one.

      • I should have added that electrocardiology is a medical specialty in the United States. And according to my specialist, every one on earth faces the risk of fatal arrythmia that a defibrillator implant would improve the chances of survival significantly. My Canadian device is not only a defibrillator, but also a pacemaker which amounts to nothing more than an additional wire.

        And should you think that these are installed at the whim of doctors and implant manufacturers…I was under routine cardiac testing and evaluation for congestive heart failure for ten years before the implant occurred. Nearly died twice waiting for the "numbers" to look right.

  3. Anyways defibrillators are the best devices to keep the people some time in a normal condition.

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