HealthLeaders Media Staff, March 16, 2009

As the recession deepens, doctors and hospitals are reporting that hard-pressed patients are deferring elective surgery, even as others are speeding up non-urgent procedures out of fear that they may soon lose their jobs and health insurance. Delaying elective procedures can have serious medical consequences, as when a detectable polyp develops into a tumor because a patient skips a colonoscopy. Some hospitals said their emergency rooms were already seeing patients with dire conditions that could have been avoided had they not deferred surgery for economic reasons.

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