Cardiologist believes COVID-19 has shown some elective surgeries may not be needed

Cardiologist believes COVID-19 has shown some elective surgeries may not be needed

BOSTON — Many hospitals are resuming elective surgeries, but one doctor said some may not be needed after all.  

“I’ve been surprised, frankly, at how well some of the patients in our practice have done without the sort of constant care, frequent visits and frequent testing we’re used to doing. Patients have done reasonably well,” said Dr. Sandeep Jauhar.

Dr. Jauhar is a cardiologist at Northwell Health in New York. He recently wrote an op-ed in The New York Times questioning if Americans really need the amount of treatment that our healthcare system is providing.

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"We should think about how to undo some of the unnecessary care that is bankrupting our health care system and not benefiting patients and, in some cases, harming patients as we reboot, as the lockdown eases," he said.

For months elective surgeries across Massachusetts hospitals had been postponed so they could put more resources towards treating COVID-19 patients. According to a study by Kaiser Health News, 1 in 10 respondents say their health has worsened during the pandemic because of delayed care. Almost 90% said their health has stayed the same.

Dr. Jauhar attributed that partly to people adopting more healthy lifestyles, such as smoking less and exercising more. He also said that increased stress was off-set by spending more time with loved ones.

“If patients have not done as poorly as we feared they would, is it possible we were providing too much treatment prior to the pandemic?” Dr. Jauhar asked.

Dr. Jauhar, who is also a New York Times best-selling author, said as hospitals begin to perform elective surgeries once again, now is the perfect time for a healthy relaunch.

“Doctors and hospitals have to do a hard rethink of how we restart our system. We shouldn’t go back to the volume of care we had pre-pandemic just to meet our bottoms lines,” he said.

Dr. Jahaur said that he is not arguing for patients to take their health into their own hands or to cancel necessary surgery, instead he wants patients to have a conversation with their doctor and ask, if their elective surgery was delayed, do they really still need to have it.

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