Cardiac stents can be life-saving devices when used judiciously. However, evidence is mounting that this lucrative procedure is being overused by physicians, both in Ohio and nationally. When complications arise out of use of an unnecessary stent procedure, and harm results, a potential claim for medical malpractice may exist under Ohio law.
The New York Times reported in 2006 that the use of stents in Elyria, Ohio was almost four times higher than among similar patient populations nationally. More recently, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that use of drug-eluting stents has been somewhat indiscriminate. Drug-eluting stents carry a higher risk of a bleeding complication than bare metal stents. If restricted to properly selected patients, there could be healthcare savings of up to $200 million per year in the U.S. Another report showed that despite the ability to reduce the number of stents being placed by performing a stress test, the test wasn’t being performed and stenting rates remained high.
When physicians put patients at an avoidable risk of injury by performing unnecessary procedures, and harm results, there is potentially a claim for medical negligence under Ohio law. Risks associated with stenting procedures include bleeding, allergic reaction to the X-ray contrast agents used to visualize the coronary arteries, infection and heart attack. If one of these injuries occurs, and the procedure was unnecessary, it would be worthwhile to consult an attorney. Further, when physicians put their patients at unnecessary risk of harm solely for profit, a claim for punitive damages may exist.