An obit for Alfred Freedman, a psychiatrist and social reformer who declared homosexuality is not a mental illness, reported that he died from “complications of surgery to treat a fractured hip.” He was 94. I was incensed when I read it. Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, a New York orthopedic surgeon, said my 86-year-old mother needed surgery when she broke her hip two and a half years ago. She died two weeks after the operation.
The mortality rate one year following hip surgery in people over 60 is an astounding 25 percent. Complications include blood clots, infections, and pneumonia. My mother also had diabetes and osteoporosis, two other reasons NOT TO operate at her age. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn this until after her death.
When I brought it up with Dr. Schwartz months later, he mumbled a BS answer. At about this time, he advised my 81-year-old aunt to have surgery when she fractured her hip. Her Stage IV colorectal cancer had spread to her bones and an operation would have caused her even greater pain and misery. My aunt’s hip healed without surgery. Although she died nine months later from the cancer, she was spared unnecessary suffering. I couldn’t wait to get out of Schwartz’s office the day I talked to him about my mother and aunt. (Dr. was no longer a title he was worthy of, as far as I was concerned.)
Please take care of those you love, as well as yourself, and find the doctors who will advise you well. Unfortunately, great docs don’t grow on trees, even in New York.