Cardiac stents – implants used to prop open a patient’s arteries – are one of the most common medical devices, and they are implanted into millions of Americans each year. In fact, over the past decade, cardiac stents have been inserted into 7 million Americans at a cost of more than $110 billion.
Cardiac stents are often used to restore blood flow in cardiac patients – an application that few medical experts would dispute as beneficial. But about half of all stent procedures are inserted into elective-surgery patients who are in stable condition. It is in these elective surgery situations that an alarming number of reports of overuse, medical malpractice, death, injury, and fraud exist. According to Bloomberg News, cardiac stent practices in the U.S. “underscore the waste and patient vulnerability in a U.S. health care system that rewards doctors based on volume of procedures rather than quality of care.”
Medical Risks Associated with Cardiac Stents
Cardiac stents come with a number of lifetime risks, including blood clots, bleeding from anti-clotting medicine, and blockages from scar tissue, any of which can be fatal, according to Dr. Sanjay Kaul, a cardiologist and researcher at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Bloomberg News reports that cardiac stents were linked to at least 773 deaths in incident reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year – a 71 percent increase from 2008. The number of non-fatal stent injuries, such as perforated arteries, blood clots and other incidents, reported to the FDA was 4,135 – a 33 percent increase from 2008.
Many Cardiac Stents Involve Medical Malpractice
Despite the inherent risks associated with cardiac stents, many doctors continue to use stents as their go-to treatment for a number of medical conditions, without properly educating their patients on stent risks and the benefits of alternative treatments. Since doctors can get paid thousands of dollars for performing a cardiac stent procedure, compared to a couple hundred dollars for a consultation with the patient on other treatment options, many doctors use stent procedures as a means of padding their pocketbooks through unnecessary medical procedures. In fact, some experts estimate that more than a million Americans in the past decade were implanted with stents in their coronary arteries that they did not need.
Not only are stents risky and not always the best medical option, but the procedure is often accompanied by allegations of fraud, with at least five hospitals have recently settling cases with the Department of Justice in which the hospitals were accused of paying illegal kickbacks to doctors for patient referrals in connection with stent procedures.
How Our Chicago Injury Lawyers Can Help
Unnecessary medical treatments and procedures, like cardiac stent implants and tracheotomies, can exacerbate medical conditions, create new medical risks, and can even result in death. If you were the victim of unnecessary cardiac stent or other medical procedure, you may be entitled to money damages for lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. A medical malpractice attorney like the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Ankin Law Office, LLC can educate you about a possible legal claim.
Contact our office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule your free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Illinois medical malpractice lawyers.