US Seniors Undergo Unnecessary Surgeries, Says Study

Relaxing senior

About 33% of American seniors covered by Medicare plan to undergo surgery in the late phase of their life, reveals a recent study. Doctors are more influenced by availability of hospital beds and medicare reimbursement rather than the actual need of a patient to decide on surgery, the study says. It has been published in the British medical journal Lancet.

Doctors Influenced by Reimbursement
The researchers say most of these surgeries are unnecessary. Doctors do not ask patients whether or not they actually need the surgery. The research study found that late surgeries in elderly people were higher in areas that spent more on Medicare. For example, late surgeries were three times higher in Munster, Indiana compared to Honolulu.

Is Late Surgery Necessary?
The study analyzed data from greater than 1.8 million Medicare beneficiaries aged more than 65 years, who died in the year 2008. It found that 20% of seniors had a surgery in the last month of their life. The researchers say doctors need to consider whether surgery has a useful impact on the patient before going ahead.

Older Patients are Neglected
The patient’s age also plays a big role on doctors’ decisions to do surgery. Older patients are often neglected. The research found that 38% of patients had surgery at the age of 65, 35% by the age of 80 and only 24% underwent surgery who were aged between 80 to 90. The researchers say doctors need to talk to terminal seniors and tell them surgery may not improve their life quality at such at a late stage.

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