Florida medical malpractice lawyer discusses recent report of unnecessary medical procedures being done at Lawnwood Regional Medical & Heart Center.
NY Times reports that unnecessary medical procedures are being performed in the cardiac catheterization lab at Lawnwood Regional Medical & Heart Center on Frist Street in Fort Pierce, Florida. The issue came to a head when a contract nurse in the cardiac cath lab witnessed an interventional cardiologist inserting stents in patients who did not need them. The nurse reported the matter to “HCA”, who owns Lawnwood and St. Lucie Medical Center. An internal investigation found that the nurse was correct.
According to Lawnwood's confidential review of the issue, about half of the catheterizations, which numbered at 1200, were performed on patients without significant heart disease.
What is a Cardiac Catheterization?
A cardiac cath is also known as angiogram. It is a diagnostic test where a cardiologist fishes a catheter through the arterial system and into the vessels of the heart. The catheter has a camera attached so the cardiologist can take a look at the inside of the blood vessel and see if there is any significant blockage. All invasive procedures have risks associated and it is not different with cardiac cath.
The report goes on to illustrate the risk of this procedure highlighting the case of a Bayonet Point, Florida man who came to the emergency room with chest pain and suffered a punctured blood vessel and an irregular heart beat that almost killed him. An outside expert reviewed the case and suggested that the procedure may not have been medically indicated. Also reported was the story of a woman who had a stent placed by a Bayonet Point cardiologist who injured the patient's blood vessel causing a heart attack. The expert who described that case felt that the woman had no significant heart disease.
The Spin Begins
In the Times report, HCA took the position that this trend showed “strong focus on quality patient care,” as opposed to financial issues. The Stuart Times reported that the HCA quarterly report said that the company operates in a highly regulated and litigious industry. Seeming to suggest that the reason these arguably unnecessary tests were performed was because of litigation.
To suggest that cardiac catheterizations were performed because of a litigious industry is disingenuous at best. Medical malpractice lawyers do not go around hunting for cases. When a case is reviewed, the lawyer and medical expert attempt to determine if the doctor or hospital met the standard of care. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer is not going to suggest that a cardiac catheterization should have been performed on a patient if the clinical presentation didn't warrant the procedure.
How about this explanation for why some physicians and institutions perform unnecessary medical procedures! Doctors and hospitals are in the business of doing medical procedures. The more procedures performed the more money generated. Cardiac Catheterization has pretty strong reimbursement rates for both the doctor and the hospital. Some healthcare providers and some healthcare corporations may be put their own interest above their patients' well being. How about that!
Performing unnecessary medical procedures that cause injury to a patient may constitute medical malpractice. Whether there is malpractice depends on the facts and circumstances of the individual case. If you have any questions about a potential Martin County or St. Lucie County medical malpractice, give me a call at (352) 267-9168. Bridging law and medicine!