Any procedure that involves the heart or a person’s heart rhythm comes with a risk of injury or death. Pacemaker implantation is one such procedure. Complications that arise from implanting a pacemaker usually aren’t attributed to product defects, negligence, or malpractice, but some are. In that situation, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the responsible parties.
Pacemaker implantation is a surgical procedure in which an electronic device is implanted into a patient’s chest to regulate electrical properties of the heart. It is typically placed right below the collarbone, with leads running through the large veins directly into the heart. The electrodes at the end of the leads send small levels of current to the heart to treat irregular heartbeats. When the heart falls out of rhythm, the pacemaker begins to work, regulating the heartbeat. If the heart rate is too slow, it is forced back into a regular rhythm, while if it’s too fast, the pacemaker monitors and collects information for doctors to review.
Cardiologists recommend pacemakers to treat several heart conditions, including tachybrady syndrome (a heartbeat that is alternately too slow and too fast), bradycardia (slow heartbeat), and heart blocks (when the electrical signals are delayed or blocked).
Of course, there are some inherent risks with pacemaker implantation procedures, as with any surgery. For example, risks like excessive bleeding and infection are present in most surgeries. In addition, during pacemaker implantation, there is also a risk that blood vessels will be damaged or that a pneumothorax (when air is trapped between the interior of the lung and the chest wall) will occur if the lung is punctured. However, doctors are typically prepared for those complications because they are common.
Medical malpractice cases that involve pacemaker implantations hinge on medical professionals’ duty to provide patients with the accepted standard of care. If the standard of care is violated and a patient suffers injury as a result, a medical malpractice case may be brought against the responsible medical provider.
Several complications may indicate that the standard of care has been breached. For example, suppose a surgeon punctures a patient’s lung or damages the heart during pacemaker implantation. In that case, it may be considered a breach, and the patient (or the family, if the patient dies) can sue for damages. If the pacemaker is implanted incorrectly, the patient may experience lightheadedness, fainting, and severe heart palpitations, affecting the patient’s recovery, ability to work, and daily life.
Doctors who perform pacemaker implantation surgeries must monitor and react to the patient’s condition during the procedure. If an adverse symptom arises, the standard of care requires that the doctor recognize the condition and modify or cease the treatment appropriately. Failure to do so may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Pacemaker implantation complications may also stem from defective devices. However, because there have been many defective pacemaker lawsuits, doctors have access to lists of brands and batches of pacemakers that have been found to be defective. They are required to confirm the device’s serial number, its fitness for use, and are forbidden to implant any device deemed defective. Failure to meet those requirements may result in a medical malpractice claim being filed, and in some cases, a product liability claim as well.
Unfortunately, improper pacemaker implantation can also lead to death. In that situation, the victim's family may be able to sue for the wrongful death of their loved one.
While most pacemaker implants go smoothly and patients’ conditions improve, giving them a better quality of life, some don’t. When complications happen during an implantation procedure, it may be the fault of a medical professional or a product defect. In those cases, you may be able to file a claim against the responsible healthcare provider or product manufacturer.
Whether you believe you have a medical malpractice or product liability lawsuit, the experienced attorneys at Ross Feller Casey are qualified to help you with your case. We have successfully settled cases and won large, record-setting verdicts for clients just like you. So let us get in your corner and fight for your best interests. We offer free initial consultations where we will review your case and discuss your legal options. If we proceed with your claim, you will not have to pay until you obtain a financial recovery.
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