Greedy Doctors Bleed Patients Dry

The news story that is the subject of this blog entry reports on doctors who are unnecessarily implanting heart stents in patients for financial gain instead of medical need.

The purpose of this blog entry and others in this series is to provide proof  scientists and medical personnel do not always act in the best interests of the public.

It is necessary to make that point because the main reason people give for not believing the claims of Happeh Theory is that scientists and medical personnel do not agree with the claims.

People with that opinion need strong reasons to doubt the trustworthiness of scientists and medical personnel.

This series of blog entries should provide those reasons.

The original news story is reprinted below.

Chinese health experts are calling for a strengthening of regulations in an attempt to curb the growing abuse of heart stent surgery.

A senior health professional said many surgeons are giving patients stents – tubes used to bypass blockages – that they do not need.

“Many Chinese patients have five or six stents implanted and some have even had as many as 13,” said Hu Dayi, director of the Center of Cardiology at Peking University People’s Hospital.

Hu said some doctors are over-prescribing because of the money they can make from carrying out the work.

Few people need more than three stents, said Wu Qingyu, president of the First Hospital of Tsinghua University and one of China’s leading cardiologists, at the 7th annual meeting of the Chinese Association of Cardiovascular Surgeons last week.

Official statistics show that heart stent usage has been booming in China in recent years, with the number of implants rising from 180,000 in 2008 to more than 300,000 in 2010.

“Some doctors implant unneeded stents for financial reasons,” Hu said. “Regardless of what is needed, they perform the procedures for profits and some patients end up worse off or even die after six months.”

Poor understanding about heart stents among patients contributes to the problem, he added.

“Many patients prefer stent implantation to taking medicine and injections, which they see as troublesome,” said Xu Zhimin, a professor from the cardiology department of Fuwai Hospital under the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

In 2009, about 240,000 people on the Chinese mainland underwent expensive heart stent surgery. Of those, 96 percent chose the drug-eluting type of stent instead of the much cheaper, but effective, bare metal stent.

According to Hu, 20 to 30 percent of coronary heart disease sufferers in the US choose to have the cheaper metal stent fitted.

In China, a metal stent costs nearly 20,000 yuan ($3,602) while a drug-eluting stent sells for more than 30,000 yuan.

According to the World Health Organization, by 2025, about 90 percent of all heart disease patients will be from Asian countries, including China.

Improvements in patient care and prevention are the keys to addressing the growing health challenge, according to Marc A. Pfeffer, from the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Pfeffer made the comment at the third Sino-US experts meeting on cardiovascular disease hosted by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Novartis, an international pharmaceutical company, on Friday.

In a bid to regulate the number of people having stents, the MOH has created a new framework to help with the diagnosis and treatment of coronary heart disease.

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