So, you have a bad hip or a bad back and your doctor suggests a surgery that could help the pain maybe even cure the issue. He/she is the doctor so why wouldn’t you trust them? However, you should definitely think about all your options before committing to an operation.

First off, it is always a good idea to get a second opinion. Doctors can be wrong and the more opinions the better idea you have of what is wrong and the best path you should take to recovery. Sometimes surgeries go wrong – that’s why there is a ton of necessary paper work that needs to be completed before a patient can go through with a surgery.

Surgery Is Not Always the Only Option

Surgeries are not monitored the way drugs are by the Food and Drug Administration. How do we know operations will actually work and help us to recover from the injury or pain we have? There is no real way of knowing until you have the surgery. Moreover, undergoing a procedure only to have it not be successful can be extremely disheartening.

According to the New York Times, a spinal fusion operation was tested in four clinical trials against nonsurgical treatment such as physical therapy. The New York Times found, “the conclusion: surgery was no better than alternative nonsurgical treatments, like supervised exercise and therapy to help patients deal with their fear or back pain. In both groups, the pain usually diminished or went away.” We consistently trust what our doctors have to say and about the operations that could help us. However, every person is different, people react differently to operations. In general, doctors aren’t going to remember the patients they helped. If insurers are willing to pay then there is no problem with performing a surgery. These are two definite reasons as to why unnecessary surgeries continue to take place today. According to the New Yorker, “Millions of people are receiving drugs that aren’t helping them, operations that aren’t going to make them better, and scans and tests that do nothing beneficial for them, and often cause harm.”

In more extreme cases, when surgery comes down to life and death questions need to be asked like will the surgery actually extent life? Will there be better quality of life after the surgery? Surgery should always have leave a positive effect, no one should have to endure an operation when nothing good will come out of it.

Now this is not to say that all medicine and all surgeries are bad. Some surgeries are definitely necessary. For example, if your appendix bursts you must get surgery to remove it. If the appendix is not taken out it could lead to other health issues and harmful infections. Although this is just one example, there are various other surgeries that can be necessary for an individual’s well-being. Surgery is a big decision and sometimes it is not necessary. A surgery could have the same effect as going to a physical therapist and figuring out the best way to conquer the issue. Once you have an operation there is no turning back, the damage from the operation is completed. So, think twice before making big decisions about a surgical procedure.

For a more in-depth look into this topic, take a look at this story.



Gawande, Atul. “America’s Epidemic of Unnecessary Care.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 19 June 2017, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/11/overkill-atul-gawande.

Kolata, Gina. “Why ‘Useless’ Surgery Is Still Popular.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 Aug. 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/08/04/upshot/the-right-to-know-that-an-operation-is-next-to-useless.html?mcubz=0.

Stahel, Philip F., et al. “Why Do Surgeons Continue to Perform Unnecessary Surgery?” Patient Safety in Surgery, BioMed Central, 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5234149/#CR18.