Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Up to two thirds of cardiac stent procedures may be unnecessary

Pennsylvania residents may be interested to learn about some of the risks associated with the use of cardiac stents by medical professionals. The devices are used to help keep the arteries of heart patients open, and over seven million Americans have had them implanted in the last 10 years. However, many medical malpractice attorneys feel that they are being overused, and they point out that only half of the 700,000 cardiac stents implanted each year each year are used to treat acute cases.

Court filings claim that stent use is often more about financial reward than patient care. Putting in a stent is a simple and lucrative procedure for cardiologists, but some experts believe that up to two thirds of elective stent operations are unnecessary. They contend that this costs the health care industry as much as $2.4 billion each year. The misuse of stents can also have fatal consequences for patients. Unneeded stents can cause potentially deadly blood clots, blockages and excessive bleeding.

The Food and Drug Administration reported 773 deaths connected with cardiac stents in 2012, which was a 71 percent increase over figures released in 2008. The agency also said that stents were involved in 4,135 non-fatal injuries including blood clots and perforated arteries. Federal inquiries have led to allegations of unnecessary stent procedures in at least 11 hospitals, and cardiologists in two states have been given jail sentences for charges related to the unnecessary use of stents.

Patients place a great deal of faith in the judgment of medical professionals, and they expect treatment to be necessary and likely to improve their condition. However, it seems that profits sometimes play a significant role in diagnostic decisions. Patients that have suffered due to hospital errors or unnecessary procedures may wish to consult with an attorney experienced in medical malpractice cases. They may be able to help these victims pursue legal remedies available to them including compensation for their pain and suffering.

Source: Business Week, "Deaths linked to cardiac stents rise as overuse seen", Peter Waldman, David Armstrong, and Sydney P. Free, September 26, 2013

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