In November 2017, new studies revealed that stents put into heart disease patients to keep arteries open work no better than a placebo. Hundreds of thousands of US patients receive expensive stents each year for the relief of chest pain. Americans pay anywhere from $11,000 to $41,000 for a stent procedure that, it turns out, is useless for most. The wasteful and dangerous stent is just the latest in a long string of expensive and unnecessary medical treatments foisted on us all in recent years. Failed medical procedures proliferate in our profit-driven medical culture.
IVC Filters, Power Morcellators, Hernia Mesh Failures
To name just three others in recent memory, IVC filters have also been found to be almost completely unnecessary. They are rarely, if ever, worth the risk of their implantation. Power morcellators used for hysterectomy or uterine fibroid removal are another dangerous “improvement”; they can be lethal when used on women with undiagnosed cancer. And finally, hernia mesh (plastic) is another unnecessary and dangerous “improvement” recently unmasked. Lawsuits have been filed against the promoters and makers of all three of these “improvements,” because risk-benefit analysis shows that each is not worth the risk of its potential failure.
The Latest Technology Prejudice
The Western medical establishment, run on the sick-model-profit-motive, is decidedly prejudicial when it comes to using the “latest” technology. Most of us have also been unwittingly conditioned to embrace the latest gadget or device. If it’s new, we almost instantly imagine that it must be better. We are, at the least, encouraged to think so by television advertisements, the shiny new brochures that litter doctors’ offices, our own doctor’s own glowing recommendation that this is the “new great thing.” New being the operative word, and sadly, if our doctor doesn’t know what “the latest” device, drug, or procedure is, we are conditioned to think she has failed to keep up with the times, and are apt to look for another, more “up to date” doctor model.
There is also a money prejudice at work. Conditioned to pursue and worship money and to listen to those who have it, we sacrifice or denigrate our own skills and aptitude, as we genuflect to the money. If some computer, phone, or medical device company spent millions developing this latest thing, it must be good, we imagine, because why else would they have spent all that money? (Our money prejudice is a non sequitur we ignore at our peril.) At the very least, we want to benefit from this great new thing, this new peachy pinnacle of money power.
We’re All Sales People Now
In our personal lives we act as (unwitting) sales people as we show one another the slickest features on the “new” cell phone, the bells and whistles on the latest model car, television, or “Smart” (Read: stupid) appliance. Most of us embrace so-called Smart meters without a whimper of protest (or a single minute of research), even though they don’t save us anything and actually cost us all more for power in the long haul. (But thousands of citizens have complained to Calif. PG&E; so some people are, fortunately, paying attention.)
Stents Unnecessary (for most), Expensive, Dangerous
As for stents, “Several randomized trials have clearly shown that stents and angioplasties don’t prolong life or prevent heart attacks in stable patients. Now, we know that they don’t reduce angina either,” wrote Dean Ornish, MD, clinical professor of medicine at the University of California of San Francisco.
IVC Filter Problems
No study has proven IVC filters are necessary or more effective than the treatment which preceded them – blood-thinning drugs and dietary and lifestyle changes. No study has demonstrated the efficacy of IVC filters. They have been shown by thousands of people, however, to be quite dangerous. They can be impossible to remove. They have likely killed thousands of people whose deaths were not attributed to the filters. They can break apart and migrate and perforate the heart and lungs, causing life-threatening conditions. IVC filter lawsuits have, consequently, been filed by the thousands against Cook Medical, Bard, Boston Scientific, Cordis, and other IVC filter makers. Even the AMA, virtually always friendly with medical device makers, has admitted these devices have proliferated despite any evidence of efficacy.
Power Morcellator Problems
Power morcellators have been used for performing hysterectomies and removing uterine fibroids. They’ve been marketed as a more convenient method for surgeons and as a less invasive method for women to undergo certain surgeries. The problem is that when they are used on women with undiagnosed uterine cancer (not entirely uncommon), they can spread that cancer throughout the body, and weaponize it so that it becomes lethal. As a result, power morcellator lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson (Ethicon) and other morcellator makers.
Hernia Mesh Problems
Hernias were fixed for at least 100 years with simple suturing, until some medical device maker got the bright idea to insert plastic mesh into the human body. The procedure is easier for surgeons or doctors who don’t have the chops to perform a good old fashioned suturing job, and it promises the patient a “less invasive” procedure with faster recovery times. The problem, however, is that once that mesh goes in, it “meshes” with the body’s tissues, grows into them in ways which can make it all but impossible to remove. When infection follows, as it often does in the body’s natural foreign body reaction, the mesh often needs to be removed; but it can be all but impossible to remove. The unlucky mesh implantee can then be doomed to a lifetime of pain. In the “old” method of simple suturing, any complications could be much more easily corrected or revised. The doctor could even remove all the stitching, if necessary, and begin again. Not so with mesh.
Failed Medical Procedures Proliferate
Given all these failed or at best dubious devices and procedures, people would be wise to do their research before submitting to the latest, greatest procedure, pill or medical device. Discerning patients might be wise to start by looking very closely at their own ingrained prejudices concerning the latest, greatest anything. Advertising dollars run what we call “the news,” which is often little more than the promotion of corporate products and corporate values, which is no values at all beyond the blind worship of profits.