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Cardiac stents overused and causing harm

While Illinois residents with heart conditions may benefit from cardiac stents, which are used to keep a patient's arteries open, their overuse has also lead to medical harm for a number of people. Stents were implanted in seven million patients in the last decade because they are able to restore blood flow to heart attack victims. Approximately 350,000 patients who are in stable condition or are undergoing elective-surgery have stents put in them by doctors.

According to a variety of sources, including court documents and regulatory filings, overuse of stents, surgical error and fraud have led to injury and even death for people who have these devices implanted. Some believe that part of the reason patients end up injured is because the medical system focuses more on volume than quality of care. It is far more lucrative for doctors to install stents into patients than to discuss other possible options with people.

According to a cardiologist at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, two out of every three stent implants are unnecessary, which works out to approximately 200,000 procedures a year. Another expert, the chief of medicine at a Veterans Administration hospital, states that over a million Americans have stents that are not medically necessary. A study completed in 2007 by the chief of medicine found that stents did not provide any additional benefits that stable patients could not achieve with medication, exercise and diet alone.

When someone seeks medical treatment, they should not worry about being urged to undergo unneeded medical procedures for the financial benefit of doctors. A medical malpractice lawyer could explain a person's legal options and avenues for pursuing compensation if they have been harmed by a negligent doctor.

Source: Businessweek, "Deaths linked to cardiac stents rise as overuse seen", Peter Waldman, David Armstrong, and Sydney P. Free, September 26, 2013

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