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Hospital chain accused of performing unnecessary surgery

HCA is considered to be the largest for-profit hospital chain in the United States, and it has 163 facilities - some here in Pennsylvania. HCA is also now at the center of a medical ethics scandal due to some of the surgical operation procedures at these facilities.

The hospital chain has been accused of performing a number of unnecessary cardiac procedures upon its patients. The allegations were first brought up by a cardiac nurse while writing a letter to the chief ethics officer of the hospital chain. An internal investigation of the matter concluded that the nurse's allegations were accurate.

Such a scenario is frightening. There are dangers anytime a patient goes under the knife. And, as it has been discovered, the more procedures conducted, the more surgical errors that occur.

It appears that doctors and hospital staff falsified medical records to hide that such a practice was occurring. For this reason, it is difficult to know from the hospital records how many individuals were injured or died due to unnecessary procedures being performed.

Such unnecessary procedures were not helpful to anyone except for hospital staff that benefitted financially. Individuals that have experienced unnecessary surgical procedures at the very least will require long periods of recovery, and in the worst case be exposed to the same dangers and mistakes that others have experienced in medical malpractice claims. The difference here is that such patients are victims of intentional medical malpractice rather than negligent medical malpractice.

Obviously, HCA will be subject to a number of medical malpractice lawsuits brought by attorneys representing a large number of clients. The number of individuals known to have been injured by such unnecessary procedures will grow.

The nurse that originally reported the concerns about the hospital practices has not had his employment contract renewed. Unfortunately, it appears that many individuals responsible for unnecessary surgical procedures taking place are still employed by the hospital chain.

Source: The New York Times, "Hospital Chain Inquiry Cited Unnecessary Cardiac Work," by Reed Abelson and Julie Creswell, August 6, 2012

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