Medical malpractice lawsuits often hinge on the failure of professionals to do things that could and should have been done to prevent harm. Yet, malpractice can also occur when professionals knowingly perform unnecessary procedures. One of the most common forms of this includes having patients undergo unnecessary cardiac procedures. The hospitals make money from performing the procedure, but they didn’t actually need to be conducted. To understand how this may be an basis of a lawsuit, our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers appreciate that it is important to consider the basic idea of these legal actions.
Malpractice involves claims that a professional with a duty to another did not act according to reasonable standards of care which resulted in harm. Of course, the obvious issue in these sorts of unnecessary procedure cases involves the harm. Most medical malpractice suits have clear harm–a patient suffers a complication (which may even be fatal) as a result. Yet, what happens when a patient does not actually suffer a complication but just has a heart procedure that they didn’t actually need? There are many answers. For one thing, there are financial losses, as the procedure is not free. In addition, the procedures always come with some risk, and there may be increased long-term risk of some medical harm as a result of the first procedure. These are the sorts of arguments that are crucial in cases of this sort.
The New York Times recently published a story on yet another case of a hospital which found a string of unnecessary cardiac procedures being performed. The story explained how a nurse sent a letter to the chief ethics officer of a hospital company, complaining that a doctor was performing heart procedures unnecessarily. The nurse noted that she cared deeply about her patients, and she could not stand by as their lives were put at risk for procedures they didn’t need. Each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm appreciates that, fortunately, many medical professionals share this nurse’s commitment. But some do not.
In this case, the nurse’s claims were substantiated following an investigation into the matter. Yet, little was done. In fact, the nurse who made the complaint did not have his contract renewed.
Further investigations continue to show severe problems. Several doctors working for the hospital chain, one of the largest in the U.S., were unable to justify many of the procedures that they were performing. In other cases, evidence showed misleading information added to patients charts in an attempt to justify an operation. For example, at one facility, a 2010 review found that about 1,2000 procedures known as “cardiac catheterization” were performed. Of that group, amazingly, half of them were on people who may not have needed it–without significant heart disease.
The consequences were severe for some. For example, one woman had the procedure without any heart disease. During the operation a vessel was cut as a stent was attempted to be added to her artery. At that point the woman went into cardiac arrest. She required a lengthy recovery time.
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