Recent accusations that hospital giant Health Corporation of America (HCA) performed unnecessary cardiac surgeries in one of its Florida hospitals turned out to be true. A former nurse at the hospital alerted HCA’s ethics officer of the unnecessary surgeries and an investigation substantiated them, but the nurse’s alerts were not the only signs.
Unnecessary Cardiac Surgeries an Ongoing Problem
Investigations found that cardiologists at several HCA hospitals in Florida were performing unnecessary cardiac surgeries that could result in surgical injuries that can threaten patients’ lives. The practice had been ongoing since at least 2002. Cardiac tests and surgeries are an important part of the company’s profits. Doctors even made misleading statements in patients’ medical records to make it appear as if the surgery was necessary.
A related problem is Medicare fraud. Unnecessary surgeries billed to Medicare should be reimbursed. However, even though HCA investigated instances of unnecessary surgeries it never reported its findings to Medicare, Medicaid or any other private insurers. Their patients were not alerted either.
Risks of Unnecessary Cardiac Surgeries
Cardiac surgeries carry with them many risks even for those who need them. For patients that need the cardiac surgeries, the risks outweigh the benefits but for those that do not, the risks are high and the benefits low. Coronary artery bypass surgery, for instance, is a complex procedure where a misplaced cut can mean death or permanent heart damage.
Another example is a diagnostic test called cardiac catheterization. Physicians always recommended this procedure for patients after a heart attack, but when patients merely complain of chest pain it is important to really analyze whether the procedure is needed.
The procedure involves inserting a tube into the arteries, which allows equipment to reach the heart. Before the equipment even gets to the heart, there are risks that can be life threatening. This includes bleeding from the artery, bleeding into the belly and creation of blood clots in the legs or arms which could cause the loss of a limb. After the equipment reaches the heart, clots can occur and the equipment can puncture artery walls.
After the equipment reaches the heart doctors may insert a stent which subjects the patient to potential clogging of blood vessels blocking oxygen from reaching the heart and puncturing of the coronary artery.
Patients injured during an unnecessary cardiac surgery have options for recovery. An Oregon medical malpractice attorney can provide guidance based on the individual facts of a situation. An experienced attorney can assist patients to obtain the recovery they deserve from these wrongful practices and make sure that others do not suffer through additional unnecessary procedures.