Fewer complications from heart device specialists
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A 2009 article in The New York Times cited a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association that reviewed the experiences of patients who received defibrillators and heart devices. The researchers reviewed more than 1110,000 cases between January 2006 and June 2007, and analyzed how the patients did both during and following the procedure.
The research, headed by Dr. Jeptha P. Curtis, a cardiologist at Yale University, found that the rate of serious complications was lowest, 1.7%, when the device was implanted by an electrophysiologist, a specialized cardiologist.
About 70% of the procedures were performed by electrophysiologists. Some were done by other types of cardiologists, who had a rate of 2.5% serious complications.
The researchers then examined complication rates during implant procedures based both on the type of doctor involved and the type of device implanted. In recent years, the question of how much training doctors receive before they start implanting heart devices has taken on added importance because of the growing number of people getting defibrillators.
There has been an increase in the number of people getting defibrillators that send out electrical jolts to stop potentially fatal heart rhythms, so some defibrillator makers are teaching the implant procedures to doctors who are not electrophysiologists.
A 2006 New York Times article detailed how one small heart device manufacturer, Biotronik, spent more than $50,000 to provide implant training to several South Carolina doctors, who then tended to use mainly Biotronik devices on their patients.
Electrophysiologists have claimed that physicians need to be highly trained to successfully implant heart devices. But other doctors have countered that the specialists are simply trying to protect their lucrative practices, and they have argued that there are too few specialists to meet patient demand, particularly in rural areas.
The research from the new study was based on records recorded in a national database set up in 2005 that was required by Medicare to approve payments for the procedure. Electrophysiologists are using this data to show that doctors need to be highly trained to successfully implant heart devices.
In another article in the medical journal, Dr. James Coromilas, a professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in New Brunswick, said the new report suggested that patients requiring an implant should seek out an electrophysiologist.
He also said that the study showed that many medical centers have both specialists and nonspecialists implanting heart devices so patients have access to an electrophysiologist if they want one.
While the study showed that the national database set up at Medicare’s behest has been useful in providing information about complications from defibrillator procedures, many experts say the database has not yielded much information about which types of patients are actually benefiting from the use of heart devices.
The condition does not improve and rarely stays the same. The usual course of progression for the condition is an ever-worsening loss of cartilage accompanied by excruciating pain and loss of motion. Patients cannot get pain relief, even with strong narcotic pain medication. Most return to their doctor complaining of pain so bad that they cannot sleep.
Inevitably the x-rays taken at the doctor’s office show a severe loss of cartilage in the shoulder joint. The only option is a shoulder replacement, which is a painful an expensive surgery. Sadly, if the patient is under 50 years of age, the replacement will not last his or her lifetime. Young patients can expect multiple repeated surgeries on the joint over the course of their lifetime.
The manufacturers of the pain pumps knew that their product should not be used in or near the cartilage in joints. Despite this knowledge they actively marketed these pain pumps to doctors and told the doctors that the pumps were safe.
Now, the patients are fighting back. Numerous patients in the northern Kentucky and Cincinnati have hired the law firm of Hendy Johnson Vaughn Emery to help them fight for unpaid medical bills, lost wages and future medical expenses. If you or a loved one have suffered joint injury like chondrolysis of a pain pump, contact us to speak with an attorney who can advise you of your rights.