Over the past few weeks, USA Today has been running a series, “When Healthcare Makes You Sick,” and has featured several articles including: “Why you should get a second opinion before getting surgery”, “Advice for patients considering surgery”, and “Doctors perform thousands of unnecessary surgeries.”
I submitted a Letter to the Editor addressing the later article, which ran last week:
Your article “Under the knife ‘for nothing'” put tragedies that can result from unnecessary surgery into meaningful terms (News, Thursday).
The article also appropriately differentiates blatantly fraudulent practices from decisions that may be inappropriate for less nefarious reasons. Most physicians want to do the right thing for patients. The American College of Cardiology invests heavily in creating guidelines to help physicians work with their patients to make the best decisions about cardiac procedures.
The College also has a series of registries that collect data and provide feedback to hospitals and practices to support evidence-based decision making. Registries also identify beneficial but underused practices, such as providing aspirin immediately to heart attack patients.
I appreciate that USA Today printed the letter. So often the “news” is focused on what a few do wrong. In reality, the vast majority of health care providers are in the business of making patients well. Recognizing this, the ACC has spent the last nearly 65 years focused on helping cardiovascular professionals provide the best and most appropriate care possible. As I note in my letter, the College has created guidelines, Appropriate Use Criteria, and quality programs to help physicians do the right thing for their patients. We have also joined initiatives like the Choosing Wisely campaign, led by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation and released a list of “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question” in cardiology to identify potentially unnecessary treatments and procedures.