A new study suggests that doctors may not be fully explaining the risks
associated with a common heart procedure. As San Diego medical negligence
lawyers, the findings raise concerns about whether patients are providing
As we have previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, informed
consent is the process of communication between a patient and physician
that results in the patient’s authorization to undergo a specific
medical procedure. The fundamental requirement is that the patient must
be provided enough information to be fully informed prior to agreeing
to a particular medical treatment. This generally includes being advised
of the risks and benefits of the procedure as well as alternative courses
The study examined 59 conversations between cardiologists and patients
about percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). During the relatively
common heart procedure, surgeons use a tiny balloon to clear an artery
blockage and place a stent to keep the blood flowing freely. As
reported by Reuters, PCI can be effective in treating chest pain and reducing the risk of
heart attacks. However, it also has significant risks, such as infections,
blood vessel damage, or other complications that may require open-heart surgery.
“When you are facing a decision that has a number of consequences
one way or the other, there are a number of issues that you are supposed
to address and we found, overall, that very few conversations had all
the elements,” said Dr. Michael Rothberg, of the Center for Value
Based Care Research at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
Overall, the researchers concluded that just 2 of the 59 conversations
provided sufficient information for the patient to make an informed decision.
Cardiologists discussed alternative treatments in just 25 percent of the
cases. They also rarely confirmed whether patients understood the information
or explained the advantages and disadvantages of different stents that
might be used during the procedure.
As a result of the flawed informed consent process, many patients falsely
believed that the main benefit of the PCI procedure was to prevent a heart
attack or death rather than decrease chest pain.
If you or someone you love has suffered from medical negligence, don’t
contacta San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.