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A New York Hospital Pushed Weight Loss Surgeries on Prisoners and Left Some Malnourished


A public hospital in New York famed for its lucrative weight-loss surgeries also performed on prisoners, at least two of whom say they were left malnourished, a report says.

A New York Times investigation into Bellevue Hospital’s procedures found that it had performed about a record 3,000 weight-loss surgeries this year, sometimes rushing inappropriate patients through the process.

It included at least 11 prisoners from New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex who underwent elective bariatric surgery at the hospital.

Bariatric surgery is a major operation that shrinks a patient’s stomach and requires them to change their eating habits, such as by eating small, protein-rich meals – a level of control over one’s diet that is near impossible in prison.

One Rikers prisoner, David Mustiga, who weighed 300 pounds, said that he was told about the surgery without being warned of the difficulties of recuperating in jail, The Times reported.

Although he had some reservations before the surgery, Mustiga said he felt pressured into the procedure by a doctor who told him it was his only chance.

He said he struggled to gain the proper nutrition and lost more than 100 pounds in less than six months — a weight loss rate that can be dangerous, and began losing his hair in clumps.

Another prisoner who had the surgery, Luis Perez, told The Times that he was not getting enough protein and could not eat without vomiting.

A spokesperson for Bellevue, Christopher Miller, told The Times that patients from Rikers were “screened and assessed like all others” and kept at the hospital until they could eat the food that would be served at the jail.

Bariatric surgeons at the hospital are incentivized to perform as many of the procedures as possible as they earn more if they operate more.

“It’s all about the numbers,” Dr. Carmen Kloer, who previously worked with Bellevue’s bariatric department as a medical resident, told The Times. “They are just churning through cases.”

The hospital gets around $11,000, sometimes more, per procedure, and it is often funded by the taxpayer as most of the hospital’s patients are on Medicaid or uninsured, The Times said.

Source: Businessinsider

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