Cardiology patients who have received surgically implanted coronary artery stents on a possibly medically unnecessary basis have been contacting their local medical malpractice attorney in greater numbers than ever in the first three months of this year.
Individual as well as class action medical malpractice lawsuits against individual physicians, hospitals, and health care corporations have proliferated after a 2010 audit of coronary artery stent insertions revealed that the procedures were considered to be unwarranted in at least 140 patients at one hospital alone.
Medical malpractice falls under the category of personal injury law. Though an attorney who files a case against a health care professional may refer to himself as a “medical malpractice attorney”, he is in fact licensed and recognized as a personal injury attorney.
A coronary artery stent is an extremely small tube made of flexible wire webbing. A stent is surgically inserted into a clogged coronary artery via the groin or arm in order to help keep a diseased coronary artery open. An unclogged coronary artery is better able to deliver oxygen to the heart and may prevent future episodes of chest pain (angina) and heart attacks. The general standard of care for the procedure known as stenting is indicated when the patient has at least 70% of blockage in a coronary artery. Intravascular ultrasounds with injections of dye are used to determine the extent of the blockage, also known as calcification, in a coronary artery.
Records from the medical malpractice attorneys representing multiple clients state that the standard of minimum 70% blockage has been ignored repeatedly, with the stenting procedures performed on patients with as little as 50% documentation of coronary artery blockage. One lawsuit even accuses the defendants of battery as a result of the patient having undergone unnecessary stent surgery. The patient is claiming extreme emotional distress. The lawsuits contend that both ethical standards and the patients trust were clearly violated, and that informed consent for the procedures was not properly obtained. It is not yet clear what damages the plaintiffs are seeking.
A review of stenting procedures performed in 2009 is currently underway.
R. Klettke is a freelance writer. He writes about personal injury and medical malpractice law and other matters of jurisprudence.
Note: This article is not intended to provide legal advice upon which you should rely in making any decisions regarding the instituting or prosecuting of a legal claim. Laws and rules relating to the bringing of a claim vary widely from state to state. You should always contact a personal injury attorney to obtain information as to the rules and the laws pertaining to any claim you might have.