Stent overuse leads to injuries and death
Posted on behalf of Michael D'Amico of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Oct 16, 2013 in Surgical Errors
Connecticut residents, particularly cardiac patients and their families, might be interested to learn of a growing medical controversy. Some recent lawsuits have brought to light the effects of unnecessary stenting. Stents, which are a device made of a metal mesh, are used to keep clogged veins and arteries open. Doctors use a catheter to insert the stent deep into a patient's body. While the procedure has been known to help people who have had a heart attack, patients whose conditions are not as serious and who opt for procedures do not see any more benefit than those who exercise, watch what they eat or use medication.
Around seven million people have received stents in the last ten years. Some experts estimate that a third of these were unnecessary. What's worse is that sometimes these procedures are harmful and qualify as medical negligence. Whistle-blowers claim that some hospitals put pressure on doctors to do as many stenting procedures as possible, whether the the doctors are experienced or not, because they want to maintain the high revenue streams that the operation brings in. This mentality puts profit before people.
In a recent case, a mother of five from Georgia was persuaded to undergo an operation in which a stent would be inserted into a vessel in order to help blood flow to her kidney. The doctor in charge, who had little training in this particular procedure, managed to perforate the woman's kidney with a guide wire. This mistake resulted in considerable internal bleeding and the woman's eventual death. Experts later found that the stent was not medically necessary or even helpful.
This situation has caught the attention of the Justice Department and other officials who are investigating accusations of kickbacks and the falsification of records. Regardless, many healthy and stable cardiac patients are still being convinced that their condition requires stenting. Some of these will experience injuries and side effects beyond those of a simple surgery. An medical malpractice attorney may help those who have undergone this procedure unnecessarily receive compensation for their injuries.
Source: Bloomberg, "Mother Dies Amid Abuses in $110 Billion U.S. Stent Assembly Line", Sydney P. Freedberg, October 09, 2013