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Surgeon malpractice may be at root of cardiac stent binge

According to senior doctors and other medical professionals, as many as half of all cardiac stent procedures in Denver and across the country are unnecessary and may actually be causing fatalities due to the weakening of heart muscles in patients. Surgeon malpractice may even be involved, these experts claim, because of the large amount of money earned for performing the procedure. The financial impact of the medical field's alleged overuse of stents was about $110 billion over the past 10 years.

Cardiac stents are indisputably beneficial in restoring blood flow to heart attack patients. These acute cases, however, account for only half of the U.S. yearly total of 700,000 stent procedures. Medical experts claim it is the other half, procedures done on patients in stable condition undergoing elective surgery, that has been used as a first-option treatment and is accompanied by overuse, injury, death and fraud. The figures came from thousands of pages of regulatory filings and relevant court documents as well as interviews and medical studies.

The sources cited in the study pointed out wasteful stent practices in a health system that rewards doctors for volume rather than the quality of care they provide. For example, the sources showed that a cardiologist is paid less than $250 for conducting a discussion with a patient about cardiac stents. That is about one-fourth of what they receive for putting the devices into that patient.

A surgical error or surgical mistake can cost patients time, money and even their lives. A Denver attorney who knows how to litigate after possible surgical malpractice may be able to help those affected by a mercenary or careless surgeon. A lawyer might assist in the negotiating for compensation to cover medical or burial expenses, pain and suffering and other damages incurred as a result of an unnecessary operation.

Source: Bloomberg Business Week, "Deaths Linked to Cardiac Stents Rise as Overuse Seen", Peter Waldman, David Armstrong and Sydney P. Freed, September 26, 2013

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