Stent are metal mesh devices implanted with catheters that open up clogged blood vessels, and they have been implanted into seven million patients in the last ten years, with researchers saying as many as 1/3 of those stents being unnecessary. Eleven hospitals across the US have now settled civil allegations of needless stenting and wrongdoing. Our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys have been following this issue, and saw a case of a Georgia catheterization clinic, or “cath lab, that harmed and even caused the death of patients without the hospital taking any steps.
The instance in Georgia involved Judi Gary, who was a patient at Satilla Regional Medical Center in Waycross, Georgia, in 2005. Najam Azmat attempted to put a catheter in Ms. Gary to put in a stent in an artery which supplies blood to the pelvis and right leg. Nurses in the room, including Evan Gourley, saw blood on the x-ray monitor. When this was pointed out, Azmat claimed there was nothing wrong. Gourley left in disgust after the nurses requested a different vascular surgeon step in, which was refused. It turned out that Azmat had tore Ms. Gary’s aorta. Gourley went to the administrators of the hospital, who had apparently already received seven such reports about Azmat, but they continued to let Azmat work. And one of his later patients died.
Ruth Minter was at Satilla in January 2006 when Azmat attempted to put a stent in an artery near one of her kidneys. He punctured the wall of the kidney in the process and Ms. Minter died 17 days later after massive blood loss. Perhaps worst of all, in a review of the case it was found Ms. Minter didn’t even need the stent that, in addition to Azmat’s negligence, cost her her life. A surgeon who reviewed her case for a lawsuit filed by her family against Azmat and the hospital said, “People who should have and could have saved Mrs. Minter’s life were too interested in having Dr. Azmat continue to do procedures and make money for the hospital to do the right thing.Research into the Satilla Regional Medical Center show the efforts that hospital administrators went to to keep their cath lab open, even in the face of untold patient injuries.
And, scarily, as noted above, Satilla and the case of Najam Azmat were not unique. There have been five federal court cases and three private whistleblower lawsuits over the rush to use stents at hospitals across the US. This is clearly a larger problem that needs to be addressed with comprehensive solutions to prevent more deaths like Ms. Minter’s and injuries like Ms. Gary’s.
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