If you or a loved one has ever suffered any heart or cardiovascular problems, you are likely familiar with the term “stent.”
Unfortunately, the fact that the term is so common may demonstrate how overly prescribed stents are, according to a recent article from The New York Times.
As a medical malpractice attorney in St. Louis, Missouri, it amazes me that more than 500,000 Americans undergo surgery each year to have a narrowed coronary artery opened by a stent, or small metal mesh tube. In many instances, such as a heart attack, this procedure saves the life of a patient.
Much too often, however, stents are inserted without any real, proven value to the patient’s well being. The American Medical Association and the Joint Commission recently said that roughly 1 in 10 elective angioplasty procedures performed in the U.S. may be “inappropriate,” while a third are “questionable.”
Major complications aren’t common but can be catastrophic to the patient’s health when they do occur.
In some cases, doctors are motivated by financial reasons, based on the large revenue streams stent procedures bring to hospitals each year. More often, however, patients and doctors incorrectly regard coronary artery disease as a “plumbing” problem.
Many doctors found that patients generally are not informed of the risks and benefits of the procedure. They assume that angioplasty must be lifesaving if they have blockage, when in reality a stent only fixes one particular channel; there may be more plaque build-up and inflammation elsewhere, which is not treated with the simple insertion of a stent.
If you have any questions about stents, feel you may have been the victim of an inappropriate angioplasty, or have suffered because of the negligence of a physician, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney today to get the treatment you deserve.