Operations often unnecessary, second opinion better

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Operations are often unnecessary. A second doctor's opinion makes sense

Back problems are at the top of the list of German common diseases. Around a quarter of the adult population in Germany suffers from back pain more frequently and 26.5 percent of the days of incapacity to work in 2012 were registered due to diseases of the muscular and skeletal system. This was the result of a study by the umbrella organization of company health insurance funds (BKK).

Many physicians advise the patient to undergo an operation to cure the condition permanently and explain the procedure as the only alternative. But not only surgical interventions on the back have increased significantly in recent years. Hip surgeries, knee surgeries and caesarean sections were also increasingly billed to health insurers. In 2011, almost 15.4 million surgical interventions were performed in Germany and Germany is the world leader in terms of population, the result of a request from the left faction to the Federal Ministry of Health. Experts consider many ops to be superfluous and mainly crave the price system of the hospitals as the reason for the increase. According to the Ministry of Health, no country in Europe has as many hip operations as in Germany.

Surgery is not always medically necessary The number of spine surgery has even more than doubled between 2005 and 2011 from 326,962 to 734,644 procedures. BKK boss Achim Kolanoski told the "Focus": "With spinal surgery we can prove that even 80 percent can be avoided". It is often better to get a second opinion from another doctor, because an alternative treatment option could have been used in 67 percent of the cases.

The health spokesman for the Union faction, Jens Spahn (CDU), has no doubt that Germany operates more than in other European countries. Further studies should now clarify "whether we have too much surgery and why". Patients must be able to rely on the fact that surgery is only carried out for medical reasons and not for the greed of some medical professionals and hospitals. For the left, this development can be traced back to the flat rate case system for billing. In addition, most hospitals are in poor financial shape. "There are senseless incentives to cut, while the means for healing and prevention are lacking. The case flat rate has to fall," said the left-wing faction leader Klaus Ernst. BKK boss Franz Knieps also sees financial incentives behind these figures, which are decisive for these undesirable developments. The reimbursement allowances of the health insurance companies are too lucrative for the clinics and back operations so it's a good deal.

Only five percent of surgical interventions really help Numerous studies have shown that at most five percent of severe back diseases could have been alleviated by surgical interventions. This is pointed out by specialist Ulf Marnitz from the Berlin back center Markgrafenpark. It refers to studies that showed that the state of health of operated and non-operated patients was identical one year after the occurrence of a herniated disc. Patients should definitely seek a second opinion. Every surgical intervention always involves risks that should only be taken if there are no more alternatives and all other options have been exhausted (fr)

Image: Lothar Wandtner / pixelio.de

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