Unnecessary Heart Procedures: Medical Malpractice
Along with any medical procedure or surgery comes risk to the patient; heart procedures are no different. In most cases cardiac procedures are performed for legitimate – often life saving – reasons but some doctors and hospitals have been accused of exposing heart patients to unnecessary heart procedures in order to pad their pockets with Medicare reimbursements. For perspective, angioplasties and related procedures are performed on 600,000 patients every year. About half of these patients are on Medicare. In 2011, angioplasties cost to the health care system an estimated $12 billion.
Risks of angioplasty
About five percent of angioplasty patients experience serious complications from the procedure. Serious complications include infection, bleeding, blood clots, a disturbance in heart rhythm and even fatal heart attack. Most heart doctors install drug-coated stents but this means that patients must take aspirin and certain anti-clotting medications for a year to prevent life-threatening clots.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries because of undergoing an unnecessary heart procedure then you may be entitled to recover damages through an unnecessary heart procedures lawsuit. Contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
When is angioplasty considered inappropriate?
In 2014, a U.S. District Judge lifted the ruling that had shielded U.S. doctors from review of their practice patterns and income. Now that the data is public, organizations have found that some doctors perform a dramatically higher rate of cardiac procedures than their peers. The question is why?
Angioplasty can be life-saving for patients who are suffering a heart attack; the procedure clears the clogged artery which restores the heart’s blood supply. The reality is that two-thirds of patients who undergo angioplasty are not having a heart attack and for this group the benefits are mixed. Patients with unstable angina reap more symptom relief from angioplasty than from drug treatment but it cannot prevent heart attacks or extend life. For patients who have a stable heart-disease diagnosis, studies have found that drugs may work just as well as angioplasty.
When a doctor decides to perform angioplasty on a patient with stable heart-disease without offering medication and lifestyle changes as the preferred option, an inappropriate or unnecessary heart procedure may have occurred.
What elements must be present in an unnecessary heart procedure medical malpractice case?
Four elements must be present in all medical malpractice cases:
- A patient doctor relationship that created a “duty of care”
- The “duty of care” was breached through negligent care
- The negligent care was directly responsible for the injuries (damages)
- That there are calculable damages such as medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering
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