What Seniors Should Know Before Going Ahead With Elective Procedures

7 hours ago
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For months, Patricia Merryweather-Arges, a health care expert, has fielded questions about the coronavirus pandemic from fellow Rotary Club members in the Midwest.

Recently people have wondered “Is it safe for me to go see my doctor? Should I keep that appointment with my dentist? What about that knee replacement I put on hold: Should I go ahead with that?”

Last June, days after her 40th birthday, Silver felt a lump in her left breast that turned out to be a tumor that had spread to her lung and liver.

For eight months, she underwent chemotherapy that reduced the masses to operable size. But last month, Silver's oncologist explained a mastectomy would also require an additional procedure to take skin off her back, known as a "flap" to cover the wound.

In the U.S., the opioid crisis is about too many opioids. In some other parts of the world, the opioid problem is about the exact opposite — a lack of access to powerful pain management drugs. As pharmaceutical companies are being sued in the U.S. for flooding the market with opioids, doctors in West Africa say they can't even get hold of those painkillers.

When prescribed appropriately, opioids can be vital tools in hospitals and clinics. The drugs make patients more comfortable and can speed recovery.

The Talk Seniors Need To Have With Doctors Before Surgery

Aug 1, 2019
Flickr Creative Commons

The decision seemed straightforward. Bob McHenry’s heart was failing, and doctors recommended two high-risk surgeries to restore blood flow. Without the procedures, McHenry, 82, would die.

The surgeon at a Boston teaching hospital ticked off the possible complications. Karen McHenry, the patient’s daughter, remembers feeling there was no choice but to say “go ahead.”

It’s a scene she’s replayed in her mind hundreds of times since, with regret. 

So your doctor has told you some of the scariest words you can possibly hear: You need surgery. What do you do next?

If you need an emergency surgery, like an appendectomy or a procedure after an accident, you usually don't have much choice in the matter. You'll likely get it done in the hospital where you went to the emergency room, unless the hospital isn't equipped to do it. If that's the case, you'll get transferred.

Hidden FDA Reports Detail Harm Caused By Scores Of Medical Devices

Mar 11, 2019
U.S. Army

Dr. Douglas Kwazneski was helping a Pittsburgh surgeon remove an appendix when something jarring happened. The surgical stapler meant to cut and seal the tissue around the appendix locked up. 

Federal law requires prisons and jails to provide medical care to people who are incarcerated. But in a recent medical journal, a group of South Florida researchers make the case that too many inmates suffer and die in part because "they lack adequate access to timely care."

"We wanted to know: what are people dying of while they're incarcerated in Miami-Dade County?" says Dr. Tanya Zakrison, a trauma surgeon at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

Florida Supreme Court

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday scheduled oral arguments in a medical-malpractice appeal filed by the estate of a woman who died while undergoing surgery for a tumor in her skull.

At 87, Maxine Stanich cared more about improving the quality of her life than prolonging it.

She suffered from a long list of health problems, including heart failure and chronic lung disease that could leave her gasping for breath.

When her time came she wanted to die a natural death, Stanich told her daughter, and she signed a "do not resuscitate" directive, or DNR, ordering doctors not to revive her should her heart stop.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Linda Radach has had six hip replacement operations since 2006, three on each side. Osteoarthritis was the reason she needed surgery in the first place, but replacing her hips in some ways only worsened her troubles.

In April this year, Katie Herzog checked into a Boston teaching hospital for what turned out to be a nine-hour-long back surgery.

The 68-year-old consulting firm president left the hospital with a prescription for Dilaudid, an opioid used to treat severe pain, and instructions to take two pills every four hours as needed. Herzog took close to the full dose for about two weeks.

Double-Booked: When Surgeons Operate On Two Patients At Once

Jul 12, 2017
The University of Arkansas

The controversial practice has been standard in many teaching hospitals for decades, its safety and ethics largely unquestioned and its existence unknown to those most affected: people undergoing surgery.

But over the past two years, the issue of overlapping surgery — in which a doctor operates on two patients in different rooms during the same time period — has ignited an impassioned debate in the medical community, attracted scrutiny by the powerful Senate Finance Committee that oversees Medicare and Medicaid, and prompted some hospitals, including the University of Virginia’s, to circumscribe the practice.

Nearly 1.5 million Americans were treated for addiction to prescription opioids or heroin in 2015, according to federal estimates, and when those people get seriously hurt or need surgery, it's often not clear, even to many doctors, how to safely manage their pain. For some former addicts, what begins as pain relief ends in tragedy.

A few months ago, neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch emerged from a 10-hour surgery that she hadn't done before.

"Most of my patients are humans," says Bloch, who works at the Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland.

This patient was a rhesus macaque.

The monkey's spinal cord had been partially cut. So while his brain was fine and his legs were fine, the two couldn't communicate.

Court: Only One Parent Needs To Sign Off On Surgery

May 25, 2016
Stethoscope and gavel against a white backdrop.
Wikimedia Commons

In what could be first-of-its-kind case in Florida, an appeals court Wednesday rejected arguments that both parents need to sign off before a child can undergo surgery.

North Florida Women's Physicians

Florida’s tough new safety rule for medical-office surgery, years in the making, has been delayed at the last minute by an outcry from obstetrician-gynecologists.

The OB-Gyns appeared Friday at the Florida Board of Medicine, which was to have passed the safety rule that day, to ask for an amendment to spare them from some of the provisions.  Board members decided instead to postpone the issue while they figure out what to do.

David Tucker / Daytona Beach News-Journal

 In a special report, the Daytona Beach News-Journal shares the story of how a Florida surgeon and hospital rescued a 34-year-old mother of four from Haiti from a tumor in her mouth that was so massive she could not close her mouth or eat anything other than liquids. Deline Louigene had sought help in Haiti as the benign tumor grew so large it was about to shut off her airway.

The death of a patient following a so-called “Brazilian butt lift” was caused by complications resulting from the surgery, according to the autopsy, the Miami Herald reports.

A five-year run of experimental spinal surgeries performed at Florida Hospital has ended, with the hospital sending letters advising patients that the neurosurgeon didn’t follow all protocols, the Orlando Sentinel reports. 

Three people have been charged in connection to botched, unlicensed treatment given at a West Palm Beach cosmetic surgery center, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

MIAMI — A 3-year-old boy is recovering at a Miami hospital after undergoing a five-organ transplant.

Adonis Ortiz underwent the multivisceral transplant in October at the University of Miami Jackson Memorial Medical Center. He received a new liver, pancreas, stomach and small and large intestines.

He and his doctors will attend a press conference on Tuesday. 

South Florida has a glut of hospitals, which has always fueled a high-tech competition in the effort to gain or preserve market share. Now that the health-care payment system is changing to reward hospital-and-doctor networks that keep patients healthy rather than those with the most admissions, the glut is even more of a problem.

Many people -- both men and women -- consider cosmetic surgery to regain their youthful appearance.  But what’s surprising is how many leave common sense at the door when they pay some unlicensed person in a shabby motel room to shoot them up with gosh-knows-what, as Fred Grimm points out in his Miami Herald column (paywall alert).

A Pasco County baby with a lesion on her frontal lobe who faced lifelong developmental disabilities is now thriving, three years after undergoing risky surgery at Miami Children’s Hospital, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The surgery to remove the lesion carried the risk of paralysis, but the lack of treatment would likely  have left Hannah Rose Whaley with permanent disabilities.

Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration has reported to federal officials -- who control the purse strings for Medicare -- that Halifax Hospital poses an “immediate and serious threat to the health and safety of patients,” the Orlando Sentinel reports. The hospital has to demonstrate it has cleaned up its act in order to ward off financial penalties.

Inspectors: Surgery Offices 'Filthy'

Aug 9, 2013
Michael Berry

Too many physician surgery offices in Florida are “filthy” and have poorly trained staff, putting patients at risk, health inspectors say. 

Tampa Bay Times

Recovery after hip replacement surgery can be agonizing -- no wonder, since the conventional rear-incision method involves slicing muscle and sawing bone. There’s a method that goes through the front, but as the Tampa Bay Times reports, most surgeons haven’t been trained to do it.  


Hospitals can make much more money when surgery goes wrong than in cases that go without a hitch.

And that presents a problem for patients. The financial incentives don't favor better care.

"The magnitude of the numbers was eye-popping," says Atul Gawande, a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, and an author of the study, which was just published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. "It was much larger than we expected."


Amid reports of a handful of “freak incidents,” the Food and Drug Administration is taking a closer look at the robots that are used to perform soft-tissue surgeries, the Associated Press reports. Many hospitals have spent large sums on the equipment, training and marketing for robotic surgery. 

Lifestyle Lift Under Fire from AG

Sep 12, 2011

Lifestyle Lift, as portrayed in TV and online ads, sounds nearly miraculous.

It’s fast, pain-free and inexpensive, the ads say, and your friends will be amazed at how much younger you look. Before-and-after pictures show impressive results.

The Florida Attorney General’s office isn’t so sure.

Since May of last year, that office has been investigating Lifestyle Lift for potential violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, based on more than 60 complaints.