Lee S. Goldsmith, M.D., JD and Jordan S. Goldsmith, JD

Whether you realize it or not, you are in some circumstances considered a “$” before you are considered a patient. You are for some strictly a source of money with little concern for your wellbeing.

An article in The New York Times on Sunday, July 16, 2023, referred to treatment centers funded by manufacturers that were started to treat vascular problems in the lower extremities. An excessive number of patients have lost their legs. If you look at one center, it might not be abnormal, but the Times looked at multiple centers and found a systemic problem. These centers are located across the country and the damage to patients is occurring in states where often the patient has little recourse to bring litigation. 

We have been involved in a number of cases where the payment directs patient care and felt that a blog on this issue would be appropriate.

A family physician was approached by a company that sells machines that do liposuction, a procedure usually done by plastic surgeons. He extended his office, put in one of the machines and suddenly he was a family physician/plastic surgeon. However, he was a “plastic surgeon” without the training or experience of a true plastic surgeon. The results were as expected for the patient we represented: under-treated complications including infection and scarring. 

A second case involved a call we received from a patient in Idaho whose daughter had been treated in New York. She claimed that her daughter had had un-indicated and unnecessary surgery, which ultimately led to our bringing multiple malpractice suits on behalf of many similarly situated patients against the offending surgeon and hospital. All resolved in our clients’ favor.

In a third case, a hospitalized child was to undergo surgery. The parents asked for a second opinion and were told they could not get one. They were both intimidated and ultimately did not pursue the matter. The surgery was performed incompetently by individuals who, in fact, lacked the experience to perform the indicated surgery. The reimbursement rate for the surgery was incredibly high and was apparently a primary motivating factor.  

All surgeons want to operate. That is what they have been trained for and excel in doing. They, of course, get paid for their efforts and that is appropriate. There are a few bad actors who will push surgery for profit when it is not indicated.

Our advice:

  1. Ask questions and expect answers.
  2. If it is an elective surgery, get a second opinion.
  3. Check the physicians’ credentials on the State website and do not rely on what some publicist has put on the physician’s website.