The Journal of the American Medical Association recently released the results of a long-term study of nearly 112,000 heart patients. The landmark study – the first of its kind – showed that nearly 23 percent of all implanted heart defibrillators have been given to patients who either don’t need them or should have been medically disqualified from receiving them.
Implantable defibrillators (commonly known as ICDs) keep the patient’s cardiac function normal by providing a shock if the heartbeat becomes irregular. That small electric charge is enough to reset the heart’s natural function, allowing the proper pumping rhythm to return.
Dangers of Unnecessary Medical Devices
There is no doubt that these devices have saved lives, or that they have changed the lives of patients who might have otherwise been in constant fear of cardiac death. The implantation of heart defibrillators is tightly controlled due to high costs – tens of thousands of dollars – and the risk for complication if the devices are negligently implanted. Horror stories of raging infections and chronic arrhythmia being caused by unwarranted defibrillators abound.
Since these devices are designed to directly affect the heart, they must be programmed precisely, monitored closely, and only used as a last resort. Unnecessary defibrillators can do much more harm than good, so medicinal or less-invasive surgical methods are typically recommended by cardiology experts, particularly when a patient’s heart damage is recent.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a doctor’s negligent implantation of a defibrillator device, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options.