Fifty Thousand Dollar Sinus Polyps

In August 2007, I went to see an ENT about ringing in my ears.  I brought with me a ten-dollar bottle of homeopathic medicine.  I wanted to ask Dr. S.’s opinion. He was a D.O. so I thought he might be familiar with natural remedies.  D.O.’s are more likely than M.D.’s to take a holistic approach in medicine.

I couldn’t have been more wrong in my expectations of Dr. S.  He ordered scans and found sinus polyps. On October 30, 2007, he performed three unnecessary surgeries, one of them reserved for hopeless sinus cases. The surgeries were a Caldwell-Luc, a septoplasty and a turbinate reduction. This was removed from my septum and face:  “multiple pieces of flat bone and cartilage, in aggregate measuring 4.0 x 4.0 x 0.2 cm.” My nose was shortened into a pig snout and there is no material remaining with which to repair it. Repair will require a rib graft. According to my pre-surgery CT scan, “no significant septal deviation is seen.” Post-surgery, however, significant septal deviation is seen.

Dr. S. drilled tunnels in my head and removed a portion of my turbinates—the inner organ of the nose. I am left with permanent pain and dysfunction. My nose is dried up. I have breathing problems. The bridge of my nose and my cheekbones have caved in. My face and nose are now asymmetrical. My right eye droops. My face is within the range of “normal,” but I don’t look like myself. The beauty and integrity have been surgically removed.

The price tag for this destruction came to around fifty thousand dollars, including lab work, scans, appointments, anesthesia, surgery, and the bill to the surgery center partly owned by Dr. S. Fifty thousand dollars for treatment of asymptomatic sinus polyps.  The bills for the aftermath of the destruction are hundreds of thousands and counting. The destruction to my life–uncountable.

Had Dr. S. performed a simple polypectomy—which is what I was led to believe—the cost would have been a few thousand dollars, the destruction, probably none. I certainly did not require more, and the so-called “standard of care” would have called for less. According to the article below, “Before surgery on an inferior turbinate is undertaken, a trial of medical management is mandatory.”…-a098248242

If that is the case, what is the “standard of care” for asymptomatic polyps? I can answer that: It is no treatment. Though I never mentioned it to Dr. S.—until after he told me I needed surgery—I had just begun to notice stuffiness when I cried on one side of my nose—the side that had a polyp in it. I cried rarely then so it was a non-issue. Such a non-issue that—as I stated—I had not mentioned it to the ENT. I had not mentioned it to my GP or any other doctor. Surely, I would have as I was sick from a carbon monoxide exposure and I was doing a lot of complaining. My referral slip to Dr. S. says it all: Tinnitus. It was my only ENT complaint. Those were the days…

Above I refer to the “so-called standard of care” because what I have learned is that there really isn’t any. There is a mythical “standard of care” in the health care industry, and allegedly, if a doctor violates it, he or she stands to face consequences. But in the current legal atmosphere, “standard of care” is a meaningless phrase. There is one, but there is nothing you can do if it is violated. Few lawyers are accepting medical malpractice cases anymore in Ohio. It is hard to get a case into court, and those that make it into court are being lost at a rate of eighty percent. This is due to tort reform laws passed several years ago and an advertising campaign designed to poison the minds of jurors against medical malpractice cases. Thus, lawyers are only taking the worst and the most black-and-white cases.

It is not much better in other parts of the country.

It’s a frightening situation. For me, well beyond frightening. I am what can happen in a legal atmosphere controlled by a rich and powerful medical lobby.


~ by ens3 on November 7, 2009.

3 Responses to “Fifty Thousand Dollar Sinus Polyps”

  1. […] malpractice cases. Thus, lawyers are only taking the worst and the most black-and-white cases.” Share this blog […]

  2. These tort reform laws are passed because people do not understand how the justice system works and by an assault by the Chamber of Commerce. It is about money.

    I do am trying to fight for my day in court.

    • Please accept my heartfelt sympathy for the loss of your beautiful son, Robert. I read Robert’s Fight: I wish you the best in your fight for a bill to improve patients’ rights. Please return with updates.

      More and more, I am thinking that what is needed is a patient’s rights organization strong enough to counter the force of the powerful medical lobbies. Your bill is a step in the right direction. If you have any energy left when you have succeeded in getting the Medical Device Safety Act of 2009 passed into law, come back and talk to me. There are a number of us who have been unnecessarily harmed by turbinate reductions, the “bread and butter” of the ENT “business.”

      We might represent a beginning.

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