Unnecessary upper endoscopies could result in patient injuries

Although many Will County residents realize and understand there are risks associated with any medical procedure, patients should speak with their doctors to make sure they are aware of these risks and to make sure any risks are worth taking when it comes to treatment, surgery and other types of medical care.

Recently, the American College of Physicians issued a recommendation that U.S. doctors refrain from using the procedure of an upper endoscopy only to diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or to check for cancer in low-risk patients. Upper endoscopies are not typically considered to be dangerous procedures, but problems including respiratory failure, reactions to anesthesia, cardiovascular problems, perforation, aspiration pneumonia and other injuries can occur.

The American College of Physicians suggests that upper endoscopies are often performed unnecessarily, meaning that the benefits do not always outweigh the risks for patients who undergo the procedures.

The college claims the procedure is not needed in women or patients under 50 years old. Typically, it has been used to monitor esophageal cancer in women or to pinpoint the cause of heartburn.

Now, the American College of Physicians wants doctors to reserve the upper endoscopy procedure for patients with persistent GERD symptoms, those who have a history of symptomatic esophageal stricture, patients who have heartburn with symptoms including bleeding, vomiting, weight loss, or anemia, or for patients who have severe erosive esophagitis.

The college said it believes decreasing the number of upper endoscopy procedures will help reduce costs for facilities and patients as well as improve patient care. At the same time, doctors must also know when it is necessary to recommend an upper endoscopy in order to rule out cancer or other health problems or to properly diagnose cancer or concerning health problems so that patients can begin proper treatments for their conditions.

Source: MedPage Today, “Endoscopy overused in GERD, internist group says,” Crystal Phend, Dec. 3, 2012

  • Our firm provides counsel to Illinois patients and their families who have been harmed by medical malpractice, including a wrong diagnosis or a failure to diagnose. To learn more about our firm and practice, please visit our Will County medical malpractice page.

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