In the past decade, cardiac stents have been implanted via catheters in an estimated seven million heart patients. Cardiac stents are metal mesh devices that prop clogged blood vessels open to facilitate blood flow to the heart when arteries are clogged. Cardiac stents can save lives, but their implantation is not without risk. Doctors performing stent procedures must explain risks to patients and obtain informed consent for performing procedures, and must use reasonable skill when performing procedures to implant stents.
Unfortunately, troubling new evidence indicates that many healthcare providers and hospitals were not only falling short of these professional obligations but were actually implanting stents in patients that did not require these medical devices. Malpractice lawyers in Columbus, OH know that 11 hospitals have agreed to settlements with the Justice Department to resolve allegations of needless stenting, but that there may be many more situations where patients had unnecessary medical procedures.
Cardiac Stents May Have Been Unnecessarily Implanted
According to the SF Gate, at least $100 billion has been spent in the past decade on procedures implanting cardiac stents into patients. A health-care economist at Harvard University has expressed concern that this flood of money can result in “corrupted practices.”
Of course, this concern is not just a hypothetical. Whistleblowers from hospitals, along with dozens of interviews with doctors and patients, have revealed that hospitals throughout the U.S. made money off of the inappropriate use of stents, either by overlooking or encouraging the use of these medical devices in cases where the procedure was not necessary.
One cardiologist at Stony Brook University School of Medicine has estimated that as many as one-third of all stent procedures in the United States in the past decade were unnecessary. This means patients took significant risks and incurred expenses for treatment and recovery time when they didn’t need to.
Worse, some of these procedures were performed by care providers who failed to exercise even minimal skill in implanting the stents. In one case, a hospital received at least seven warnings and complaints from nurses alerting them to the fact that a surgeon had placed guide wires in the wrong place or made other serious mistakes that could injure patients. The hospital apparently ignored the warnings and a patient died in a subsequent stent implantation performed by the physician.
Other hospitals reportedly went to great lengths to keep popular cauterization clinics open, padding doctor fees, forgiving debt and using ghost jobs and discounted office space to entice physicians to continue to implant stents in patients.
This type of behavior on the part of doctors and hospitals is seriously damaging to the health and well-being of patients. Patients need to remember that whether they are advised to have a catheter or advised to undergo any type of surgery or serious medical procedure, it is always advisable to get a second opinion to ensure that the treatment is really the necessary and appropriate method of dealing with a health condition.
While a second opinion won’t guarantee that patients will never receive unnecessary treatment, it at least reduces the chance of doctors or hospitals performing unnecessary and dangerous surgeries to pad their own bottom line.
Malpractice lawyers in Columbus, OH can help if you were harmed by a healthcare provider. Call the Smith Law office today at 800-930-SCOTT to schedule a free consultation.