Americans Are Often Prescribed Unnecessary Surgeries That Have No Proven Benefits

Dr. Christine Bradstreet

Why are so many Americans getting unproven, unnecessary, or even harmful medical care?

From the drugs they take to the surgeries they receive, Americans are being prescribed common remedies and procedures that are unecessary and have no proven benefit.

Common, yet unproven surgeries:

On the surface, most of us would say we want to avoid surgery. So why do millions of Americans continue to undergo surgical procedures that are proven to be useless? Doctors and patients routinely bypass safer, less expensive, and more effective techniques and methods.

There are a few things happening here.

People believe and follow their doctor’s orders without asking too many questions.

We’re more likely today to ask our doctors a few probing questions, but we tend to just accept that our doctors are giving us the most up to date recommendations.

If your doctor recommends surgery, it must be necessary, right? People are particularly trusting of “their” doctor. Other doctors might recommend unnecessary surgery, but not mine!

primum non nocere,” - First, do no harm

People want their painful condition to go away yesterday.

Surgery sounds like a fast route to the end goal of pain or symptom relief .

“I’ll just get surgery and be done with it.”

Lifestyle changes, diet overhauls, examination of thoughts and beliefs, and hands on type therapies such as chiropractic, acupuncture and physical therapy take time. And, frankly, they take effort.

You have to show up, you have to work hard, and you have to stick to a program. You have to be patient. YOU have to make yourself healthy. No one is going to do it for you.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
- Thomas A. Edison

If insurance is paying, doctors and patients don’t care about the cost.

So procedures that cost more but have worse outcomes (or even make you worse) are common. The cost is ultimately passed down to you though through higher premiums, higher deductibles and higher co-pays.

Year after year, Americans spend more than other industrialized nations for healthcare and we have worse outcomes. It’s not even close. Read more here.

In American culture, “bigger is better”.

Surgery is the biggest most expensive thing you can throw at a problem, so that’s what a lot of Americans want. In spite of the statistics on outcomes, there are going to be patients and doctors that want only the biggest (and perceived best) solution.

It’s hardly the best.

Knee surgeries to “clean up” wear and tear or to fix a torn meniscus? Proven to be a waste. Read more here.

Spinal fusion? Not beneficial. Read more here.

Cardiac Stents? They don’t lower the risk of heart attacks or death and now it seems they don’t even reduce chest pain. Read more here.

These surgeries are just as abused and useless today as mass tonsillectomies were a few decades ago.

These surgeries have no clinical evidence that they give any benefit, and in some procedures, patients were worse off for having had the operation.

The short term symptom relief accredited to these operations is found to be from the placebo effect. Yes, surgeries, like drugs, have a placebo effect.

This phenomenon is hardly new.

Today we can look back and see the mistaken beliefs that led to harmful practices in the past. Back in the 1950s and 1960s doctors were frequently removing tonsils.

My mother had her tonsils removed only because her sister was having hers removed, and the doctor thought it would be convenient to do both at the same time. And what are tonsils anyway, who needs those! (Hint, you weren’t created with extra or unnecessary parts.)

Equally wasteful and harmful operations today are just as common.

“Too often, health care practitioners do not rely on the latest evidence and their patients don’t get the best care,”- researcher Daniel Morgan from the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine.

Doctors and patients are sold on the idea of magic bullets.

Medicine is marketed to us and to doctors just like any other product in the US. Really creative people do a great job convincing you you need things that you don’t.

More than $24 billion was spent on marketing to physicians and over $3 billion was spent on advertising to consumers, mainly through television commercials. Read More Here.

We’re fortunate to live in a place and time where we have all the information we need at our fingertips.

Do your homework. Ask your doctor probing questions such as:

  • “What does the scientific evidence say about this procedure?
  • "Is it proven statistically to help this diagnosis and its outcome?”
  • “Can we exhaust less invasive methods and leave surgery as a last resort?”
  • “Do the statistics prove that I will not be made worse down the road by this surgery?”

I understand that when faced with a health challenge you can feel frightened or even desperate for a remedy. It’s very easy to get caught in the rushing current of more and more invasive medical care whether it’s warranted or not.

When it’s not a medical emergency, you have time to let the dust settle. Trust your body’s healing ability. Step away from the fear. Give your mind and body time to heal.

Invest time and money into your body. If your roof leaked you’d pay to fix it, so don’t hesitate to pay to take care of yourself.

Be honest about your physical and nutritional habits and examine your thoughts and beliefs that are contributing to your problem.

“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease. ~ ”
― Thomas A. Edison

Remedy the things that are lacking, and you’ll be amazed at the healing that will happen.

You can read more in this article from The New York Times. Read More Here.

Thanks for reading and being an educated patient.

all images open source from

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Dr. Christine Bradstreet is a renowned transformation specialist, an inspirational author, and a health and wellness expert. Through her teachings, people learn to create more of what they want in their lives - more health and wellness in their bodies, minds, and spirits. When she's not writing, she offers workshops and lectures, and she works individually with clients to promote healing in their lives. Visit her at


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