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Medicine Science

Unnecessary Medical Procedures and the Dangers of Robot Surgery 130

Posted by samzenpus
from the danger-will-robinson dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The LA Times reports that in a new report aimed at improving healthcare and controlling runaway costs, a coalition of leading medical societies has identified nearly 100 medical procedures, tests and therapies that are overused and often unnecessary. The medical interventions — including early cesarean deliveries, CT scans for head injuries in children and annual Pap tests for middle-aged women — may be necessary in some cases, but are often not beneficial and may even cause harm. 'We are very concerned about the rapidly escalating cost of healthcare,' says Dr. Bruce Sigsbee. 'This is not healthy for the country, and something has to be done.' Each of the specialty medical societies has provided a list of five procedures that physicians and patients should question about the overuse of medical tests and procedures that provide little benefit and in some cases harm. A 2012 report from the independent Institute of Medicine estimated total waste in the system at 30%, or $750 billion a year. 'Millions of Americans are increasingly realizing that when it comes to healthcare, more is not necessarily better,' says Dr. Christine K. Cassel." According to pigrabbitbear, it's the robots we should be wary of. He writes "'We are committed to helping victims of robot surgery receive the medical care and compensation they deserve. As both a lawyer and a licensed medical doctor, Dr. Francois Blaudeau has made it his mission to fight for the victims of traumatic complications as a result of botched robot surgery.' That's the opening salvo from the medical malpractice lawyers who run the slick fear factory of a website, BadRobotSurgery.com. According to the doctor-lawyers behind it—doctor-lawyers like Francois Blaudeau, MD, JD, FACHE, FCLM—'thousands of people have suffered severe and critical complications at the hands of surgical robots. In fact, 'robotic surgery has been linked to many serious injuries and severe complications, including death.'
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Unnecessary Medical Procedures and the Dangers of Robot Surgery

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Slashdot editors aren't paid by the number of posts.

  • by Thiez (1281866) on Friday February 22, 2013 @09:12AM (#42978445)

    Why are these two unrelated topics in a single post? The word 'robot' does not even occur in any of the 'Unnecessary Medical Procedures' articles (does using 'find' count as RTFA'ing?)

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      Why are these two unrelated topics in a single post?

      Conflation .. the new tabloid journalism of the 21st century .. and the 20th, and probably the 19th, 18th, 17th etc.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Because it allows for better trolling of course, why?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They're related by both being mentioned in the same Slashdot post, QED. Which part of circular reasoning are you failing to understand?

    • Both may be driving up healthcare costs? I don't know much about healthcare, and I'm sure there are many experts with strong opinions on the subject who would say "No, THIS THING is what's driving up costs of healthcare," (the liability and lawyers contribution seems like a convincing one) but seems like pointless medical costs and a push for overpriced surgical robots that aren't better could increase costs.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's worrying about the wrong thing. Millions of people have suffered severe and critical complications at the hands of human surgeons. In fact, 'human surgery has been linked to many serious injuries and severe complications, including death.' /sarcasm

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by mjr167 (2477430)
      It gets worse! Millions of people have been killed by an insidious substance known as dihydrogen-oxide! If you have suffered sever injury or death as a result of an encounter with dihydrogen-oxide, call me!
      • Like many other substances, DHMO has good and bad purposes. It's essential for human life and for crop growth, so much so that most U.S. homes have a DHMO pipeline with four or more taps. Just be careful around pools where DHMO is stored, as any liquid can cause drowning.
        • ... as any liquid can cause drowning.

          Actually you'd have a hard time trying to drown someone in mercury.

    • by acedotcom (998378)
      Sounds like what we really need is Old Glory Robot Insurance [ebaumsworld.com].
  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Friday February 22, 2013 @09:20AM (#42978511)

    Human surgery has been linked to many serious injuries and severe complications, including death.

    And I think many more such cases overall than for robot surgery. Horror stories can be found always, just a matter of searching hard enough.

    The question is: which one is more reliable overall?

    • by javilon (99157)

      From the article: "In fact, 'robotic surgery has been linked to many serious injuries and severe complications, including death.'"

      Same thing goes for surgeons, but a robot has two qualities that your run of the mill surgeon doesn't: It is consistent in its results (you can end up in the hands of a drunken surgeon, someone who just lost a familiar, or it just happens to have a bad day), and it is cheaper (in the long run).

      If a generation of robots have some problem or make some mistakes, next generation will

      • by sjbe (173966) on Friday February 22, 2013 @10:07AM (#42978885)

        Same thing goes for surgeons, but a robot has two qualities that your run of the mill surgeon doesn't: It is consistent in its results (you can end up in the hands of a drunken surgeon, someone who just lost a familiar, or it just happens to have a bad day), and it is cheaper (in the long run).

        Robotic surgery doesn't mean what you seem to think it means. It isn't an autonomous robot doing the procedure. It is a doctor doing the procedure using robotic technology to enhance and assist. It improves capabilities for minimally invasive surgery and remote surgery but it is not what you are describing.

        Automation is coming to all other aspects of life, shedding jobs at its wake. I don't see why doctors need to be protected from that, as long as automation brings some benefits to society.

        Common misconception. Automation does not "shed jobs", it simply pushes the jobs elsewhere. We automated farming and that freed the labor force to work in manufacturing and services and we all have benefited greatly from that shift. Manufacturing is now being increasingly automated for many things freeing labor for more valuable tasks. A lot of work is not value added. A lot of my work is as an accountant. Theoretically I could keep the books by hand like they did before computers with large staff but that adds no economic value to what we do, just cost. Better to use Quickbooks and automate and apply that labor more productively elsewhere. The purpose of jobs is not to provide a paycheck. The purpose of jobs is to do economically useful work. If a machine can do the work more economically that labor needs to be applied elsewhere.

        Doctors don't need to be protected from automation any more than anyone else. If anything they welcome the productivity improvements automation can provide, particularly on the administrative side of things. But it's pretty hard to automate a checkup or removing an appendix. We give them a lot of training because those skills are not presently replaceable with any technology we possess. Perhaps that will change someday but it won't be anytime soon.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by javilon (99157)

          Robotic surgery doesn't mean what you seem to think it means. It isn't an autonomous robot doing the procedure. It is a doctor doing the procedure using robotic technology to enhance and assist. It improves capabilities for minimally invasive surgery and remote surgery but it is not what you are describing.

          Well, you are mostly right, but having a robot involved, even if it is minimally autonomous, means a complex tool is being used, introducing some consistency to the part of the job it does. A bit like the difference between using an automatic plant to build a car versus doing it manually like it is still done with italian sports cars.
          But this is only the beginning. I have seen reports of the next wave of medical robots becoming more autonomous, like sensing the type of tissue and refusing to go into the wro

          • by sjbe (173966)

            This one uses examples from the industrial revolution that are not applicable anymore because the rate of automation is far faster (and accelerating), meaning that the economy doesn't have enough time to rellocate workers to other basic tasks before they are automated as well.

            And your evidence for this is where exactly? Exactly how are you measuring "rate of automation"? (and no a book by Ray Kurzweil or Vernor Vinge is not evidence of anything) Even accounting for the recent economic problems employment rates are well within the range of normal and there is no evidence I am aware of that indicates any unusual difficulty in reallocating labor.

            In fact, the way things are going, non educated people will have a hard time competing with machines in any basic job.

            Decisions to automate are economic decisions largely based on volume and value. They are rarely technological decisions. Professional

          • by Kjella (173770)

            Well, you are mostly right, but having a robot involved, even if it is minimally autonomous, means a complex tool is being used, introducing some consistency to the part of the job it does.

            Just not to the results, early robots would just continue to smash things until someone hit the off switch when things go wrong. Not that most robotic surgery is autonomous at all, it's mostly advanced puppeteering of tools smaller than the surgeon could operate directly.

            This one uses examples from the industrial revolution that are not applicable anymore because the rate of automation is far faster (and accelerating), meaning that the economy doesn't have enough time to rellocate workers to other basic tasks before they are automated as well.

            I doubt we'll run out of work as such, there'll never be an end to the want for personal services and the poor will end up working for each other for pennies because they can't afford the robot products. However, the return on capital and t

          • Automation suffers from diminishing returns. It was at it's fastest when they developed the hard collar for draft animals and basically ended human powered plowing. That was the lowest hanging fruit. What's left by now is all pretty high, hard to reach fruit. Robotic fruit picking is a bitch, though nations without Mexicans have been getting started.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday February 22, 2013 @10:40AM (#42979193) Journal

        Surgical 'robots' are pretty much entirely human operated cut-by-wire devices. "Waldos [wikipedia.org]" of varying sophistication and shape.

        Very handy because you can, say, mount the business end of the device on something a lot thinner and more flexible than a surgeon's wrist, and avoid having to crack the patient's entire chest open, or apply a filter between the input and the output, to allow the surgeon to make otherwise impossibly tiny motions.

        To the best of my understanding, much of the remaining challenge is machine vision/sensing. Unlike assembly line robots, surgical bots can't make assumptions about product uniformity(indeed, if they have you cracked open for repair, abnormality is the only safe assumption, though even clinically normal people can vary considerably) and failure to correctly distinguish between tissue types or other visual mistakes can have unpleasant consequences.

        In terms of pure steadiness, strength, or repeatability, humans are pretty screwed; but getting robots to stop fucking up magnificently when something unexpected happens has continued to be tricky.

      • by cyn1c77 (928549)

        Same thing goes for surgeons, but a robot has two qualities that your run of the mill surgeon doesn't: It is consistent in its results (you can end up in the hands of a drunken surgeon, someone who just lost a familiar, or it just happens to have a bad day), and it is cheaper (in the long run).

        If the "surgeon" just lost their familiar, they're probably a witch or a warlock. So you've got bigger problems on your hands than their emotional state!

    • The question is: which one is more reliable overall?

      The answer is, "It depends." Before I had a prostatectomy several years ago, I looked very hard into the humans vs. robotic surgery question, at both the available statistics (such as they were) and with conversations with about a half-dozen men who'd had one or the other procedure. Neither side had a clear edge. The surgeon who ended up with my business told me that he felt that the da Vinci procedure was oversold, and that patients were disappointed when recovery didn't occur as quickly or fully as they'd

    • The second story is specifically about Da Vinci robots, which were supposed to revolutionize medicine by being able to perform the whole surgery automatically. As a general rule, when doing bone surgery, like knee replacements, the robots were prone to causing unnecessary ligament damage and generally left the patient with a very long recovery time as a result. This doesn't mean all robots in surgery are bad; with the exception of all-in-wonders like the Da Vinci, the vast majority are directly human-contro

      • I'm rather troubled by the fact that badrobotsurgery.com even exists; the conditions they're treating absolutely should not be handled with the Da Vinci I learned about as an undergrad.

        When you have a special hammer that allows you to charge more, everything starts to look like a nail.

      • The second story is specifically about Da Vinci robots, which were supposed to revolutionize medicine by being able to perform the whole surgery automatically.

        Actually the Intuitive Surgical DaVinci robots are not autonomous at all and are not FDA approved for anything except thoracic procedures, not joint work. You are apparently confusing them with much simpler robots that help guide the application of joint replacement operations.

  • Time warp? (Score:4, Informative)

    by dbIII (701233) on Friday February 22, 2013 @09:22AM (#42978525)
    With this "robot surgery" is it 2060 or just April first?
    Remote control surgery via endoscope, lapriscope or whatever has a human being driving a tool. There are no droids to be looking for.
    • These surgeries are safer and less painful than traditional gut-opening ones. They're even doing heart bypasses this way now.

      So while some are no doubt botched, overall people are better with than without, a net gain.

      Therefore these lawyers need to die screaming like pigs in hell for pretending otherwise. What's up with the OP? Does he work for them, pretending its a scam then regurgitating their line, helping in the initial phase of their fraud, loudly introducing bad robots?

      • These surgeries are safer and less painful than traditional gut-opening ones. ...

        So while some are no doubt botched, overall people are better with than without, a net gain.

        You cannot say that all robot surgeries are better and safer because that is not true. This new surgical technique has different pros and cons, reduces some risks but increases others, so it's use needs to be evaluated (epidemiological studies) for each kind of surgery in order to assert if it is beneficial for that kind of surgery. New things are not better just because they are new, they need to be tested and proven.

        An example from a couple of years ago, some studies shown that robot prostate cancer surge

  • Looks like something straight out of The Onion..

  • by mbone (558574) on Friday February 22, 2013 @09:30AM (#42978581)

    The robots in robot surgery are not the same as the robots in Isaac Asimov. A DaVinci robot has no autonomy at all, but is really just telepresence, an extension of the surgeon's hands and eyes. If anything goes wrong, it is the surgeon who is ultimately at fault (baring any mechanical or electrical problems, which I don't think they are alleging).

    The BadRobotSurgery.com lawyers must know this; their web site sounds like it has all of he subtlety and morality of a Karl Rove political ad campaign.

    And, of course, none of this really seems to have anything to do with unnecessary ,medical procedures.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      their web site sounds like it has all of he subtlety and morality of a Karl Rove political ad campaign.

      Well then at least it is more honest and upfront than a David Axelrod political ad campaign (or any of the anti-billionaire ads from organizations sponsored by George Soros).

      • I love it. I make a comment to point out that the OP is interjecting a political view (in a troll like manner) into a non-political discussion, but I'm the one moderated "Flamebait".
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The robots in robot surgery are not the same as the robots in Isaac Asimov. A DaVinci robot has no autonomy at all, but is really just telepresence, an extension of the surgeon's hands and eyes.

      If they don't have any autonomy at all, they aren't robots. If they do any of their own interpretation of their instructions (deciding how to carry them out) then they are not only robots, but also have some autonomy.

      • They have autonomy in much the same way a pantograph has autonomy.
      • by NeoMorphy (576507)

        Robots do not have to be autonomous. They don't even have to have a cpu. But even if they did have a cpu, I wouldn't say they are deciding anything. Without a random number generator the resulting action should always be the same.

    • their web site sounds like it has all of he subtlety and morality of a Karl Rove political ad campaign.

      But it's the top Surgery Website of 2012! It says so right on the front page. You must have missed that.

  • by hessian (467078) on Friday February 22, 2013 @09:35AM (#42978629) Homepage Journal

    No doctor wants to be on the stand in a courtroom and get asked:

    "So, if you'd just done this one easy surgery, the dear deceased might be with us today?"

    Inevitably, it ends up looking like the doctor wanted to "save money" by avoiding a $100 test or $500 surgery and that's what killed poor dearly departed.

    Also, an order has suppressed evidence that the dearly departed was 500 lbs and smoked 4 packs a day while eating nothing but cheesburgers with bacon.

    That kills the cost curve. So does the paperwork, which has hospitals hiring more paper-pushers than doctors and nurses. All of this stuff is backward looking, designed to avoid that one moment in trial where it sounds to 12 half-awake people that maybe the rich evil doctor just didn't care enough.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Bullshit, because what really happens is he does the test, does the unneeded prostate surgery on a 65 year old and then when the patient dies on the table nothing happens to the DR. He goes on to perform more unneeded tests and surgeries to get his cut.

      Do you know how rare a DR is that will even suggest maybe just letting nature takes its course is the best?

    • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Friday February 22, 2013 @09:59AM (#42978801) Homepage

      Exactly this. I'm a fan of Doctor Grumpy, who's made his opinions [blogspot.com] pretty clear. There's always some doctor willing to testify that some test was obviously needed to find some rare condition with no visible symptoms. Those "unnecessary" tests are indeed necessary - not for the patient's safety, but for the doctor's.

    • by alen (225700)

      no, there is something called a standard of care. if a patient has symptoms, you do some tests and try to make a diagnosis. there are books that tell you what you have to do depending on the symptoms.

      i know of people who filed medical malpractice suits and nothing happened. at best they might have been given a little money to make them go away. its not as easy as it sounds and those big winnings you read about is 1% of all cases at best. most of the scammers i know made more money in auto insurance injury s

      • there are books that tell you what you have to do depending on the symptoms.

        And how many malpractice juries have read those books? How many even have the vaguest notion of which books those *are*?

        Exactly none, that's how many.

        And the prosecution *will* have a expert witness--certified by the court and everything!--testifying that the test was clearly indicated and would've saved the dearly departed. No matter what the book says.

        • by PRMan (959735)
          And the doctor's attorney will have the book and make the phony "medical expert" look like the fraud that he is.
          • And the doctor's attorney will have the book and make the phony "medical expert" look like the fraud that he is.

            And the "phony medical expert" will have his own book. The jury won't know the difference.

    • by fermion (181285)
      It is easy to say that x% of work is unnecessary. What is hard to identify, before the fact, is which of this work is unnecessary. Take flu vaccine. A few percent of recipients will experience some reaction, some severe. Many probably do not require the vaccine. Yet we do not say that "30% of the money spent on flu vaccine is wasted."

      OTOH, some treatments and testing is found to be ineffective or unnecessary in most cases. Lawsuits and the revenue generated from the procedures can provide resistance

      • by 0111 1110 (518466)

        It is easy to say that x% of work is unnecessary. What is hard to identify, before the fact, is which of this work is unnecessary.

        Exactly. The whole point of diagnostic procedures is that the doctor doesn't have a crystal ball. It's easy to say after the fact that a procedure turned out to be unnecessary. In my experience the only person at fault for truly unnecessary procedures are the patients themselves. Assuming you are conscious you can always refuse a diagnostic procedure if you think you know more about medicine than the doctor. Don't blame the doctors for fuck sake. In my experience most are doing the best they can for their p

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      Inevitably, it ends up looking like the doctor wanted to "save money" by avoiding a $100 test or $500 surgery and that's what killed poor dearly departed.

      $100 test? $500 surgery? What doctor do you go to, a free clinic? The last $500 "surgery" I had was the doctor removing a couple of skin tags with a pair of nips and putting on a band aid. Office visits start at $96 at our family doctor's office. I had 3 CTs several years ago within 48 hours for cracked skull and subdural hematoma and each were over $1

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday February 22, 2013 @09:37AM (#42978645) Homepage Journal

    If they are so concerned with healthcare costs, then why is the exploding number of non-medical administrative personnel ever mentioned?

    When I lived in a certain large Midwestern city the medical office I went to contained about two financial office personnel for every medical staff person.

    Of course one reason is that they have to have a staff to fight the insurance companies at every turn... but no one will ever talk about that.

    Yes... there are medical procedures that do not need to be done, but the problem is like so many in everyday life: there is a huge number of high end administration that don't do squat and make huge salaries.

    • Of course one reason is that they have to have a staff to fight the insurance companies at every turn... but no one will ever talk about that.

      This fight works to increase the bottom line for the medical office/clinic/hospital, the insurance company, and the lawyers. Too bad it does nothing for the child with leukemia or her now-bankrupt family, but hey, that large midwestern city probably wouldn't ever elect a Tea Party candidate, so it must be their fault. Putting medical decisions in the hands of accountants and lawyers is batshit crazy. Of course, one could say the same thing about most fields of endeavor. It all started to go wrong when we

      • by pnutjam (523990)
        Blowing all my mods to call out your Tea Party endorsement. I have lived in two conservative wonderlands, Grand Rapids, MI and Indianapolis, IN. Both are full of Tea Partiests and were major stops in Sara Palin's book tour.

        In my local government the Democrats didn't even bother to run although there were some challenges to the Repubs from super conservatives.
        I have seen nothing to indicate that any of these super conservatives want to save money, decrease bureaucracy, or really make any changes that don't
    • If they are so concerned with healthcare costs, then why is the exploding number of non-medical administrative personnel ever mentioned?

      It gets mentioned a lot. Seriously. I'm married to a doctor and everyone involved is very, very, very well aware of the problem. That does not mean it is a simple problem to fix however. Electronic medical records will help a lot in the long run but getting the vast amount of very complicated paperwork and related processes automated is no trivial feat.

      there is a huge number of high end administration that don't do squat and make huge salaries.

      Not in medical office administration there isn't. Medical office workers get paid quite poorly for the most part.

      • by pnutjam (523990)
        They do get paid poorly, but there are afew that get paid well. Usually they work for larger hospitals. These are the ones you see in articles and their wages are touted by the schools that churn out people hoping to make a living sucking the cream out of the middle of our financial transactions.
        In general, if you work for a hospital you can make money, waste money, and/or be incompetent. They don't care or their layers of bureaucracy are too thick to allow change. If you work for a doc it's hit or miss. So
    • It worries me a lot that when he says, "We are very concerned" he follows it up with "the rising cost." Did he say he is concerned about the patients life? Did he say he is concerned about dangers of unnecessary procedures? Apparently the cost is foremost in his mind.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @09:42AM (#42978673)

    I don't need to see the list to know it's not there. Where is routine infant male genital mutilation? You want to save a quick $300 bucks? And possibly thousands more as I've had to spend OUT OF MY OWN POCKET to deal with complications?

    For fuck's sake.

  • after "According to pigrabbitbear" ... Is it just me or has the namespace of good available user / website names run out like IP4? CNN reporter floppypants456 bringing you breaking news!

    Also, this smells suspiciously of manbearpig! He's real I tell you!

  • by xtal (49134) on Friday February 22, 2013 @09:50AM (#42978733)

    The same robots that can assemble iphones will be able to do open heart surgery.. except many, many times faster. The same cameras that provide high speed film will be able to drive high speed image recognition of what needs fixing, in multiple spectrums, in real-time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KxjVlaLBmk [youtube.com]

    That is one lab in Japan, and it's several years old. The state of the art in this technology is nothing short of breathtaking. It's being driven by cheap processing time. 50 years of computer science (real computer science) on vision systems is now all coming to life.

    What's the problem? Well.. it will render advanced surgeries a commodity. Doctors have egos worse than fighter pilots, and you just wait until drones and computer piloted autonomous planes start shooting down the real deal. It's over then. Doctors are not stupid people, and the smarter ones are realizing this now.

    Robotic surgeries will dramatically improve life for millions of people, and while there is a development curve, they will ultimately be superior in every way, as sure as hand-milling was replaced by CNC equipment.

    Exciting times we live in.

    • what robots can do is achieve automation is standard settings. No two patients anatomy is exactly alike. Common wisdom in surgical culture is that any monkey or individual can do a simple surgery. That is not what you need people for. You need people for the *judgement* of what to do in certain situations. To appropriately assess and make the right medical judgement during surgery when someone's life is on the line is not something that will be done autonomously by robots.
      • by xtal (49134)

        [quote]
        To appropriately assess and make the right medical judgement during surgery when someone's life is on the line is not something that will be done autonomously by robots.
        [/quote]

        You see, there's what you dont understand.

        Stupid robots, yes. Ones with expert systems, no. Expert systems have been demonstrated to be superior in a number of clinical settings, and they're only going to get better as machines get faster.

        Ultimately there will be surgeries that can only be performed automatically as they'll be

    • wow, that's just awesome. I'm particularly impressed by the knot tying. The idea that these systems can adjust to dynamic an unpredictable situations is flat out amazing.

    • Within the foreseeable future no doctor is going to be replaced by machines. Some nurses, lab technicians and orderlies might lose their jobs to robots, but not one doctor will. Machines will simply allow for higher quality care. There is no incentive for doctors to fight robots (except possibly some irrational "when I was your age" get-off-my-lawning). The second story is purely about the work of a bunch of unethical ambulance chasing lawyers out to make a quick buck through frivolous lawsuits and FUD, not
  • by MrKaos (858439)
    All Your Organs Are Belong To Us.
  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pesho (843750) on Friday February 22, 2013 @10:12AM (#42978941)
    Why is an injury lawyer’s marketing campaign posted at all on Slashdot, let alone next to an unrelated LA time article? The article quoted in the second part of the post actually says exactly the opposite of what the post states. Does anybody on slashdot know what 'editor' means? What grades did the slashdot editors get on reading and comprehension on elementary school?
    • Did an 'article' about a blog post by misleading, ambulance chasing, grief abusing malpractice attorney really survive the firehose? Seriously? Or did an editor just tack that on for fun on his own? I love Slashdot, I really do. But this is messed up to the point of being downright disturbing.

  • by archer, the (887288) on Friday February 22, 2013 @10:20AM (#42979009)
    In it, they report uninsured patients get charged 11x what would be allowed if the patient qualified for Medicare. It used to be health insurance companies would be able to get rates 20% to 30% over the Medicare rate. Now, because of hospital consolidation, the insurance companies are being forced to pay 5x the Medicare rate. The author wasn't able to find any actual financial reason for the markup. (Things like, $1.50 for an acetaminophen pill, when a bottle of 100 costs $1.50. Or a blood glucose test strip costing $18, when supermarkets sell them for $0.60.)
    Here's the article. [time.com]
    • single player will fix that

    • Or a blood glucose test strip costing $18, when supermarkets sell them for $0.60

      Someone needed to be sent to the supermarket to buy that 1 glucose test strip. I can imagine the cost of person's time and commute coming upto $17.40 at least.

      • I hope you don't truly believe that.

        In reality, some secretary or equivalent orders an entire case of thousands of the things from Bayer Healthcare, costing more like $0.10 each without the supermarket markup, and has Fedex deliver them for about $10 for the entire order. Same goes for the acetaminophen mentioned above, bringing the per tablet cost WAY under $0.01 (possibly less than $0 if it has the Tylenol logo easily visible to the patient).

        Then of course they tack an extra $17.90 on to the cost of t
  • From health care professional standpoint:

    Blaming robots for bad surgical outcomes is like blaming PCs for a virus or an accidentally deleted system file.

    Surgeons are people. People have the ability to make mistakes. If you make a mistake with your computer, you lose some photos, or trash your hard drive etc.
    If you make an accidental mistake as a surgeon -- whether done open or robotically -- bad things happen to people.

    Thus, just like on here people say IANAL and that you should get *good* legal advice. You
  • LOL unnecessary (Score:4, Informative)

    by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Friday February 22, 2013 @10:47AM (#42979277)
    I'm not even remotely surprised that 30% of medical advice / treatment is waste. I have to see a lot of doctors for a very weird condition I have and the amount of time they either recommend a MRI ( I've had like 7 ) or EEG ( I've had like 5 ) or another costly and redundant medical test is amazing. I even have cases where one doctor will order a MRI, EEG and SLEEP STUDY only to refer me to a doctor who will run the EXACT same tests.

    Now even if I don't focus on the random testing they do which is massively overkill, they like to give me medicine like it's going out of style. I so far over the last 5 years have been switched on and off maybe 20 high power level nerve medications, all of which run a steep price tag and have a HUGE health risk attached. In some cases they will give me some super power new nerve med which will give me a new issue which they will order tests and new meds to treat!!!

    I think my GP says it best 3/4 of the time, "Fuck off and shut up, If it's not causing at least a 7 /10 issue in your life lets drop it". He's right, if you can live with what you have and you don't need medical treatment then just don't get it. The human body is able to treat itself fairly well, doctors should only be called in when you body can't help, instead of the current model where you sneeze and all of a sudden need a MRI, Vaccination, Med leave from work, Clean room and Cancer tests.
    • by pnutjam (523990)
      Well, people have to get their pain pills.
      because their drug addicts...
      • by Murdoch5 (1563847)
        Pain pills are handed out like candy, I personally hate it. I have several bottles of pain killers on my fridge that I get prescribed every few months and I usually don't take any of them. I think pain pills need to become MUCH MORE regulated, to the point that we really don't give enough of them to make the pain go away, only slim down bit.
        • by pnutjam (523990)
          Yes, the sad fact is that people need to learn to deal with chronic pain. Medication is for short term pain management. Chronic pain requires other solutions.
        • by 0111 1110 (518466)

          Pain pills are handed out like candy, I personally hate it. I have several bottles of pain killers on my fridge that I get prescribed every few months and I usually don't take any of them. I think pain pills need to become MUCH MORE regulated, to the point that we really don't give enough of them to make the pain go away, only slim down bit.

          Dude, you could be selling those on Silk Road and be making a ton of bitcoins. What a waste. Can I have the name of your doctor who is handing out pain pills like candy? I'd like to see him. My doctor is stingy with them, but is willing to prescribe a very small amount when it is obvious that I am in a huge amount of pain. But the last time I was in severe pain he refused. In the old days I would have switched doctors hoping to find one that actually gives a shit when I'm in pain, but nearly all of them are

          • by Murdoch5 (1563847)
            Lets make it clear that I don't support the DEA! I just don't think it's a good idea to pass everyone a bottle of pain pills for everything. Sure it's great to be a little high, pain free and all of that but it's not normal. Pain is your body telling you to be careful and watch out, pain pills are the man made and grown circumvention for that. A little pain is really a good thing because it prevents you from trying to do something you shouldn't. In the end only take the bare amount of pills you need.
            • by 0111 1110 (518466)

              I agree that a little pain can be a useful signal that something is wrong, but once you know that something is wrong it certainly serves no useful purpose. Have you ever had chronic pain? Do you have any idea how tiring and awful it is to be in pain constantly 24 hours a day? And if you don't like your doctor get a new one. Most doctors are not like that. You just happened to pick one of the 0.0000000000000000001% of doctors that does not fear the DEA and gives out pain pills at the drop of a hat. He could

              • by Murdoch5 (1563847)
                Well actually I do have chronic pain so I'm not talking out my ass. I agree the problem with pain killers is that your body builds up a tolerance, but the thing to do is stop taking them! I know what it feels like and I know you'd rather die but you can't have your cake and eat it to. You need to teach your body that it will get pain killers only when your ready to take them, it will help the pain. I also don't have that rare a doctor, I get 1 bottle of something powerful once a month, I get 1 bottle of
  • The United States spends more than $2.5 trillion a year on healthcare, or more than $8,000 per person. That is 21/2 times as much as the average spent by other industrialized nations, according to data collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, whose members include the richest nations.

    So is that...
    ...21 / 2 = 10.5 times as much?
    ...2 + 1/2 = 2.5 times a much?
    ...a Kingdom Hearts Sequel [mobygames.com]?

  • Where is J.J. Abrams with the trademark infringement suit?
    • by Shimbo (100005)

      I did injure that patient but in my defense I was temporarily blinded by a huge lens flare...

  • by tibit (1762298) on Friday February 22, 2013 @11:32AM (#42979851)

    My problem is the opposite: it's not about the unnecessary stuff, it's about the cheap, non-invasive things they could do that they stay away from like if it was a transplant or something. My pregnant wife had to spend a couple of hours bleeding in the ER for a clueless resident to finally pick up the ultrasound and tell us "well, there's an apparently intact fetus with a beating heart, stuff happens, no need for a cleanup surgery, go home". They were already setting up an OR for a D&C -- what kind of an idiot does that before doing a basic ultrasound that takes 60 second start-to-finish?!

    Another story: I have a solid family history (with tombstones and documented post-mortems to prove it) of plaque formation in coronary arteries, and the doofuses would drag their feet on noninvasive transthoracic ultrasounds of precisely the non-invasevely accessible parts of those arteries that were problematic in my family! I mean, come on, how stupid do you have to be.

    Some guys I know decided they've had enough of bullshit and simply got an ultrasound for themselves to play with. It doesn't take 6 years of med school to do a decent doppler coronary artery exam. You simply need enough practice and access to rudimentary literature (and a modicum of intelligence). When you have the tool in your basement, you can get more hands-on time in a month than a resident gets in a year. Of course it helps if you're an engineer and can troubleshoot things and fix them when something breaks.

  • "annual Pap tests for middle-aged women â" may be necessary in some cases, but are often not beneficial and may even cause harm"

    Does nobody here remember the wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments from the feminism industry when the study expressing the above findings re: annual pap smears was published? It was not that long ago. It's probably part of the current narrative of the mythological "war on women." How dare those study results conclude that the three times more Americans spend on

    • Dude, we won the genetic X/Y chromosome lottery. Just enjoy not having to deal with all that complicated plumbing (except for fun) and shut-up.

      That said, if men had vaginas we'd have competitions to see who could shoot ping pong balls the farthest and with the most accuracy. Of course, how do I know that women don't? Pics of it didn't happen!

  • ... one of the most common unnecessary (and harmful) medical procedures. Male circumcision.

  • by Rambo Tribble (1273454) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:25PM (#42982031)
    As industries and ideologies have competed for the consumer's dollar, they have learned that almost nothing sells better than fear. Whether it's extra medical procedures, the law-and-order candidate, more insurance or 15-round magazines, a frightened customer is a willing customer.
  • I am wondering who is supposed to decide what procedures are necessary? If you don't trust the doctors to do it, who do you trust? The insurance companies are the ones footing most of the bill. Let them worry about what is necessary. If they won't pay for it, many people aren't going to do it. Complaints like this ignore the real problem, which is that health insurance masks the true market costs and medical care is absurdly overpriced. If most people had to pay those prices they would seek medical care a l

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