When you select a doctor, you expect the doctor will provide trustworthy medical care and sound recommendations. If a physician recommends a procedure or treatment and you trust them, you are likely to follow their orders, believing that the treatment is being recommended to enhance your health. However, that is not always the case and in some instances the injuries that result from our doctor’s mistakes are so serious that a medical malpractice attorney must be consulted.
Are Unnecessary Heart Stent Risks Hurting Patients?
As reports from US News & World Report and The New York Times illustrate, however, a doctor’s recommendations are not always in the best interest of the patient. The publications report that in recent years there have been several doctors – some of which have practiced in small, rural communities – who have been or who are being investigated by the federal government for allegedly performing unnecessary procedures on patients to obtain payment from Medicaid.
Some of the doctors accused of performing unnecessary procedures include cardiologists accused of performing unnecessary angioplasties, other cardiac procedures, and/or repeatedly inserting unnecessary heart stents into patients’ arteries. Although these devices and procedures can be extremely valuable and life-enhancing for certain patients, their overuse in some patients can result in serious health complications and expose them to unnecessary heart stent risks.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of American Medicine analyzed 144,000 stenting procedures and found that cardiac stents were medical inappropriate approximately 12 percent of the time and of uncertain value another 38 percent of time. To discourage unnecessary stinting procedures, The American College of Cardiology published guidelines to help doctors determine when a procedure is appropriate.
What is a Stent?
Also Know As Coronary Stents or Heart Stents
According to the Mayo Clinic, cardiac stents are small tubes inserted into arteries as part of an angioplasty and similar cardiac procedures. Stents are designed to help strengthen weak cardiac arteries and keep formerly-narrowed arteries open after an angioplasty procedure. Stents are typically small wire-mesh tubes that are surgically-implanted inside the weakened or damaged artery. A cardiac stent may be coated with certain drugs to help keep the artery open while other stents may simply be bare metal.
Stents can also be used in other parts of the body as well. For example, if the carotid artery that runs up a patient’s neck is narrow or clogged, a stent may be inserted in order to help reduce the chance of a stroke.
How Angioplasties and Stents Help Patients
An angioplasty is a surgical procedure that begins with the doctor performing a cardiac catheterization. A cardiac catheterization involves the cardiologist inserting a small, hollow tube (the catheter) into a blood vessel near your arm or groin that leads to your heart. The catheterization procedure allows the doctor to gain important information on how a patient’s heart is working and what problems, if any, exist in the patient’s heart. If the doctor encounters any clogged or narrowed arteries, the doctor may perform a coronary procedure like an angioplasty. In this procedure, a tube with a special deflated “balloon” is inserted into the clogged or narrow artery where the balloon is then inflated. This widens the artery and restores blood flow. The cardiologist may then implant a stent to help keep the artery open and free from further blockage.
When a coronary artery becomes too narrow or too clogged with plaque, a person can end up suffering a heart attack. Patients who are in the throes of a heart attack stand to receive the greatest benefit from angioplasty surgery and the insertion of one or more stents. For these patients, the angioplasty surgery coupled with the use of a stent or several stents can restore life-saving blood flow to the patient’s body.
For patients who have been diagnosed with atherosclerosis (a type of heart condition brought on by the buildup of plaque in the arteries and veins), an angioplasty surgery used in conjunction with the insertion of a stent can help open up partially-blocked or narrow arteries and help avert a heart attack. US News and World Report reports that about 600,000 angioplasties and related procedures are performed each year, making them one of the most common cardiac surgeries performed.
But How Many is Too Many Cardiac Stents?
What about patients who have a partially-blocked or narrowing artery but who are not suffering from a heart attack but who, in the future, might? For this group of patients, US News & World Report says that the data as to whether angioplasty and stents are of benefit is more muddled.
Angioplasty is known to be effective at relieving chest pains suffered by those with chronic angina. However, angioplasty and the overuse of heart stents may do little if anything to extend the life of the patient or prevent a heart attack from occurring in the future. What is more, according to US News & World Report for patients in this category drugs may be just as effective at treating heart disease as angioplasty.
Cardiac Stent Complications
Angioplasty and the use of too many cardiac stents may actually harm a patient’s health rather than help it. US News & World Report claims that about five percent of angioplasty patients suffer cardiac stent complications that can include infection, bleeding, blood clots, and fatal heart attacks. A patient who has had several unnecessary heart stents procedures may also have weakened arterial walls and would be at risk of suffering a tear in the arterial wall when subsequent stents are inserted. This can lead to fatal complications.
How a Philadelphia Coronary Stent Complications Attorney Can Help
If you believe you may have been injured in Pennsylvania or New Jersey as a result of medical negligence or an unnecessary procedure, it is important that you seek an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to assist you. Call The Colleran Firm, based in Philadelphia, for trusted guidance about medical malpractice issues. Our knowledgeable team has helped numerous patients and their families in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey investigate the cause of their medical injuries and hold accountable the health care providers who contributed to their injuries. Our firm is focused on helping our clients recover the maximum amount of compensation possible so that our clients have the resources they need to rebuild their lives. Contact the Colleran Firm today by phone or through the firm’s website and schedule your free initial case evaluation to talk about the today.