Residents of Massachusetts might be startled to hear that the overuse of cardiac stents can lead to death. Cardiac stents are implants that are used to prop open the arteries to allow for better blood flow. Although nobody disputes their benefit when they are used to restore the blood flow in heart attack patients, there have been numerous injury, death and fraud lawsuits filed by the other half of patients who chose to have them implanted.
Thirty-seven cardiologists, 33 heart patients or their survivors and more than a dozen medical studies attest that cardiac stents are overused in elective-surgery patients. Those sources place some of the blame on the health care system for rewarding doctors for the number of procedures that they perform rather than the quality of their care. This behavior contributes to more surgical errors. For instance, cardiologists get paid less than $250 to speak with patients about having cardiac stents implanted in them. However, they get paid more than quadruple that amount to actually put a stent in a patient.
Overuse of stents is not necessarily the norm, but it is not a rarity either. Federal cases concerning the overuse of stents have been seen all across the nation. According to a cardiologist at Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York, two out of three elective stents are not really necessary. Essentially, one third of all stents were not actually needed. That translates into more than a million U.S. citizens having stents placed in them that they didn’t really require. Moreover, those unnecessary stents end up costing the health care system $2.4 billion per year.
Patients who received unnecessary stents and then experienced complications from them might be able to file medical malpractice lawsuits in connection with their conditions. Medical malpractice attorneys could be able to help patients negotiate settlements with medical practitioners and institutions.
Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, “Deaths Linked to Cardiac Stents Rise as Overuse Seen”, Peter Waldman, David Armstrong and Sydney P. Freed, September 26, 2013