Hospitals use robots to push prostate surgeries
Want to see a high-pressure sales pitch? Don't visit a car dealer... just visit a hospital with a prostate-chopping robot.
It slices... it dices... it brings in money like nobody's business -- and who cares if it performs operations no one actually needs?
A new study shows how hospitals that spend big on robots do more surgeries than ever before -- so many that they must be putting those machines to work overtime.
Good thing robots don't have unions!
Researchers tracked robot purchases at 554 hospitals and treatments given to 30,000 men between 2001 and 2005, and found that hospitals that buy the machines do 29 more surgeries in the first year alone -- a huge jump when you consider that many only did between 100 and 150 a year in the first place.
Meanwhile, hospitals that don't buy robots actually do five fewer surgeries in that same year.
It's not because they're losing business to robots -- surgeries were actually DOWN overall during the study period, according to the research in Medical Care.
It's because hospitals are pushing robo-surgery on any man with prostate cancer -- and you don't even have to walk through the door to hear the sales pitch.
In addition to the millions spent on the machines, hospitals with robots spend big on marketing campaigns that rival those of the car dealers I mentioned earlier: blaring radio ads and obnoxious TV commercials.
Some hospitals even bring their robots to shopping malls for passers-by to "oooh" and "aaaah" over.
But here's what you won't hear during that marketing blitz: There is zero evidence -- and I mean absolutely no evidence at all -- that men who are treated with robots have better outcomes.
And there's plenty of evidence that prostate surgeries -- done by humans and robots alike -- can lead to a nightmare battle with lasting and even permanent side effects, including incontinence and impotence.
It's the same story with most other cancer treatments, prostate and otherwise -- we treat more cancer "survivors" than ever before... but haven't changed the survival rate.
About the author
William Campbell Douglass I.I., M.D. has been called "the conscience of modern medicine."
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