Balloon angioplasty is becoming a more common medical procedure, treating coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, and a variety of other cardiovascular complaints related to decreased blood flow. While this procedure is so common it is usually classified as routine, it still carries an enormous amount of risk. Three percent of patients undergoing this procedure die and almost sixteen percent suffer complications of some sort. It is important to understand this procedure and when these complications are a result of negligence and malpractice.
What Is Balloon Angioplasty?
Balloon angioplasty is a safer alternative to open heart surgery and bypass operations. Arteries are opened using an inflatable balloon. After being given medication to relax and relieve pain, the patient has a thin sheath inserted in an artery, often one in a leg or near the groin area. A catheter with a balloon tip is put through the sheath and into the patient’s vein, then threaded up the vein to the blocked artery.
At this point, a radiographic dye is injected so the blockage can be visualized on an x-ray. The catheter is then guided into the blockage. The balloon is expanded, compressing the plaque so that blood can flow freely through the artery. This procedure takes around two hours, and the patient is kept overnight for observation.
When Balloon Angioplasty Leaves Lifelong Damage
Balloon angioplasty is a routine procedure, but there still are complications. These can result from:
• Errors in the angioplasty harming blood vessels and surrounding organs
• Errors in administration of anesthesia and other medications
• Not monitoring the patient adequately, either before, during, or after the procedure
• Failure to identify and treat complications promptly
• Lack of need for the procedure in the first place.
An Expensive Mistake
While balloon angioplasty is safer than many other cardiac procedures, the complications can be devastating. Many have lifelong health effects and require expensive and painful procedures to restore the patient to health. Blood clots in the artery that had the balloon angioplasty may form causing a heart attack, an embolism, or a stroke. The procedure may also have been performed poorly, so the problem returns in a short time. Some people suffer damage to the artery that was treated, which can cause hemorrhage. Also, allergic reaction, kidney damage, and even kidney failure are possible side effects of the dye used in balloon angioplasty. Any of these issues may cause permanent injury or even death.
Is it Negligence?
Negligence in routine procedures such as balloon angioplasty is common because health care personnel may be less rigid about protocols in everyday activities. The legal test for malpractice is simple: Were the health care workers negligent or did they otherwise fail to act responsibly? Did this cause injury to the patient? If you can answer ‘yes’ to both of these questions, you may be a victim of medical malpractice.
People who have had complications of balloon angioplasty have to have other risky procedures performs, but this is not all. They also are at a higher risk of future complications and may even die. Doctors and medical staff who harm their patients should be held responsible so they cannot hurt anyone. Contact an attorney today if you suspect you or your loved ones are a victim of malpractice.