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Too many needless medical procedures

French Hospitals Federation says money is being wasted because many unnecessary procedures are carried out

THE French Hospitals Federation (FHF) says money is being wasted because many unnecessary procedures are carried out.

It has called for more checks on whether medical acts prescribed are useful. In a report, it referred to the high number of head x-rays, costing €9 million a year, which it said were useless for mild injuries.

It also questioned regular breast cancer screening for over-74s, which it said had not been shown to be useful, and criticised a rising number of caesareans. In 2009, the rate was over 20 per cent and is 2.3 per cent higher in private hospitals than in state ones.

One Paris hospital has a rate of 38 per cent, which FHF believes raises questions over whether establishments deliberately opt for unnecessary, but well-paid procedures (with part of the cost picked up by the state).

“There is no link between the amount of caesareans and difficult pregnancies,” the FHF said. It believes billions could be saved if doctors stuck to what is required.

However the leader of childbirth specialists’ union Syngof, Jean Marty, has written to the FHF, saying doctors feel obliged to carry out caesareans to defend themselves from being sued if there are birth complications.

There have been payouts of millions, he said, and this is more serious in private practice where the doctor, not the hospital, is liable.

“We undoubtedly do a lot of precautionary tests, as there is no disadvantage to us and no advantage to prescribing few of them.”

The head of doctor’s insurance firm Sou Médical-MACSF, said in Le Figaro: “We have never seen a court ruling against a doctor for carrying out a caesarean, but there have been a lot for of using classic childbirth when a caesarean was justified.”

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