Many individuals who experience chest pains, shortness of breath, or other health concerns contact their doctor and discover that their heart is not receiving a proper flow of blood. Lack of blood flow and oxygen to the heart creates the symptom of chest pain. This condition is known as angina.
The commonly accepted way to treat this condition for many decades has been to insert a stent (which is a mesh) into one or more of the arteries supplying the heart with blood. Stents are intended to hold blood vessels open in order to increase blood flow to the heart, thus solving the issue.
If your doctor gave you a heart stent without properly discussing any other alternatives that were less risky or less invasive, and the stent has not improved your condition, you may have a valid claim for medical malpractice.
Stenting done with no life threatening symptoms
Heart stents are designed to open blood flow to the heart. They are definitely useful in emergencies such as blocked arteries or heart attacks. However, if the patient does not exhibit life-threatening symptoms, installing a cardiac stent may be unnecessary. The stent insertion procedure itself has the potential to create more harm than good, according to medical experts. Instead, doctors are advised to prescribe lifestyle changes and particular medications to patients without life-threatening indicators.
According to a comprehensive investigation by Bloomberg a few years ago, about 50 percent of elective implant cardiac stent surgeries may be unnecessary and even lead to patient deaths. They found that some 7 million Americans over the past decade have undergone a stent implanting procedure to open up blocked arteries. Over this period of time, the total cost of these procedures has exceeded $110 billion. Heart attack patients can benefit from this procedure due to its ability to restore blood flow to the heart. Each year, the most serious cases account for about half of the 700,000 total stent procedures performed in the U.S.
Bloomberg conducted an extensive review of thousands of documents, including regulatory filings and court papers, as well as over a dozen medical studies. The evidence is strong, according to Bloomberg, that this popular stent treatment is frequently overused, and sometimes leads to injury, fraud, and even death.
Taking into account the award system based on volume
One issue that contributes to the problem of unnecessary procedures imposed upon patients, such as the stent procedure, is the manner in which doctors are rewarded based on volume rather than quality of care. Cardiologists are paid much more for performing a procedure than they are for relating the risks of the procedure or alternative treatments to patients. As a result, patients experience elevated risks of injury and complications and in some cases, medical malpractice.
Some of the risks to which patients may be exposed when they receive an unnecessary stent procedure include blood clots, perforated arteries, allergic reactions, and infections.
As the victim of an unnecessary heart stent, you may be able to recover damages in a lawsuit if:
- You are experiencing a lower quality of life from injuries you received from the heart stent placement
- You have experienced a heart attack after an unnecessary heart stent insertion
- Your doctor did not provide you with less risky, alternative options, including lifestyle changes or medicine