Balloon Angioplasty Errors: Unforeseen Complications or Medical Malpractice?

Balloon angioplasty is a popular medical procedure used to treat cardiovascular conditions such as angina, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and acute myocardial infractions (heart attacks). Although balloon angioplasties are routine procedures considered less dangerous and invasive than open heart surgeries, they're not without risk. Balloon angioplasty has a 3 percent mortality rate, and as many as 16 percent of patients experience complications, some of which can be life altering. If you believe that complications following your balloon angioplasty were caused by a medical malpractice surgical error, you and your family may be entitled to compensation. Learning more about balloon angioplasty and its risks can help you determine if you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

What Is Balloon Angioplasty?

Prior to the 1970s, patients suffering from blocked arteries had to undergo risky and invasive open heart surgeries and bypass Diagram of a Balloon Angioplastyoperations. The advent of balloon angioplasty gave patients an alternative to those traditional procedures.

Balloon angioplasty allows doctors to clear blocked arteries using an inflatable balloon catheter. The catheter is inserted into an artery in the leg, groin, or forearm and guided to the site of the blockage. Radiographic dye is injected into the plaque blockage, which helps doctors visualize it on an X-ray and guide the catheter into it. Once the catheter is placed, doctors expand the balloon, which compresses the plaque, clearing the blocked artery and allowing normal blood flow to resume.

Doctors can also use balloon angioplasty to place a wire stent to ensure that the artery remains open after the procedure. The stent is often treated with a medication that discourages the blockage from reforming.

Complications Associated With Balloon Angioplasty

Despite the routine nature of the procedure, complications can still occur in some balloon angioplasty cases. Some of the most common complications include:

  • Blood clots at the angioplasty site

  • Myocardial infractions (heart attack)

  • Embolism

  • Stroke

  • Arrhythmia

  • Coronary artery damage

  • Bleeding

  • Reoccurring stenosis

  • Kidney damage or failure caused by the radiographic dye

Patients who suffer these complications may require expensive procedures to correct the problem and restore their quality of life.

When a Balloon Angioplasty Error Is Medical Negligence

Bad surgical outcomes don't always equal negligence and medical malpractice. Even when doctors, nurses, and technicians are properly trained and performing their jobs conscientiously, a patient may not respond to the treatment in the way that was expected. However, if a complication occurs due to a medical professional's error, you may be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim.

For a case to be considered malpractice, you must be able to show that the medical professional in question acted irresponsibly or failed to deliver the accepted standard of care. You need to prove that those actions, or the failure to act appropriately, resulted in serious harm.

Common surgical errors related to balloon angioplasty can include:

  • Administering too much or too little anesthesia

  • Failing to appropriately monitor the patient before, during, and after the procedure

  • Failing to prescribe the correct medication

  • Dosing errors, such as giving a patient too much or too little of a prescribed medication

  • Harming blood vessels or surrounding organs during the angioplasty procedure

  • Failing to recognize or treat complications in a timely manner

  • Performing a balloon angioplasty on a patient who doesn't need one

We Can Help

When patients submit to any type of medical procedure, they trust that their doctor and the assisting medical staff have the training and discipline necessary to provide them with quality medical care. Patients may be reassured by hearing that a procedure is considered “routine,” but sometimes the very routine nature of a procedure such as balloon angioplasty can cause problems for patients if their doctors and other medical staff are complacent when performing such a common operation.  

If you or someone you love suffered a complication during a balloon angioplasty that you believe was caused by negligence or medical malpractice, you may be entitled to pursue compensation for medical bills or lost wages due to an inability to work. Contact the knowledgeable injury recovery professionals at the Inland Empire Law Group today. Our team of experienced attorneys is ready to discuss your case and help you fight for whatever compensation you may deserve.