Up to 70% of hysterectomies in US unnecessary, study finds

Both medicines and certain healthcare procedures are routinely over- and underused throughout the world, according to a series of studies commissioned by The Lancet.

For the studies, 27 international specialists analyzed the scope, causes and consequences of the over- and underuse of healthcare. They found both practices can occur in the same country, organization or health facility, sometimes even afflicting the same patient, reports Reuters.

Underuse makes patients vulnerable to avoidable diseases and suffering, while overuse unnecessarily subjects patients to harmful tests or treatments and wastes valuable resources and money, according to the report.

Here are five study findings.

1. Up to 70 percent of hysterectomies in the U.S. are inappropriate, according to the report. These rates were 20 percent in Taiwan and 13 percent in Switzerland.

2. In China, 57 percent of patients received unnecessary antibiotics.

3. The rate of unnecessary knee replacements was 26 percent in Spain and 34 percent in the U.S.

4. The World Health Organization estimates 6.2 million excess C-sections are performed each year, with half of them occurring in Brazil and China. Researchers note steroids used to prevent premature births have been underused for the last 40 years.

5. Vikas Saini, MD, one of the study's lead authors, cites greed, competing interests and poor information as sources for both the over- and underuse of healthcare.

"Patients and citizens need to understand what's at stake here if their health systems fail to address these twin problems," said co-lead researcher Shannon Brownlee, according to Reuters. "In the U.S., we are wasting billions of dollars that should be devoted to improving the nation's health."

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