Patients should usually avoid surgical biopsies
A recently reported study of 170,000 biopsies conducted in Florida between 2003 and 2008 demonstrated that twenty percent were unnecessarily performed surgically, rather than by needle. That amo unts to 300,000 women in the U.S. undergoing a procedure that costs $10,000.00 in hospital cost and $1500-2500.00 in surgical cost, rather than an equally effective needle biopsy that costs less than $6500.00, total.
Eighty percent of these women do not have cancer, according to the study, and besides incurring unnecessary costs, they are being exposed to unnecessary infection risk and larger scars. Why are one in five women undergoing treatment that is more invasive, far more expensive, less safe and no more effective? Because, according to the study, surgeons are reluctant to refer patients to a radiologist for a needle biopsy that takes the place of an opportunity for the surgeon to earn a tidy, simple surgical fee. This is the true problem with spiraling health care costs: what one investigating physician called the "leave no dollar on the table" approach of many health care providers resulting from our third-party compensation system. And given the profit resulting to hospitals and surgical centers (now likely to owned, in part, by the physicians or surgeons) there is no institutional incentive to limit procedures that are unnecessary or inappropriate.