Over 30,000 cardiac surgery procedures are carried out each year in the UK and most of them are carried out successfully without any incident.
Unfortunately, problems can occur with cardiac treatment as a results of a misdiagnosis or from inadequate care. This could be inadequate care prior to a cardiac surgery, which can results in the surgery being delayed, or problems which occur during or after the surgery as a result of inadequate care.
Cardiac emergencies require prompt attention by ambulance staff, meaning that delays experienced at this point or at A&E can have serious consequences or even be fatal.
At Medical Negligence Solutions, one of our most recent cases involved dealing with a claim for the family of a deceased relative who sustained a ruptured aorta. The delay in treatment in this case proved fatal.
The majority of cardiac treatments are delivered in the following ways:
Open Heart Surgery
A surgeon will make an incision in the chest and often a heart and lung machine will be used to sustain the pumping action of the heart and to move blood away whilst the heart is being operated on.
Artery Bypass Surgery
If the aortic artery (the main artery) or other arteries to the heart are blocked, this can prevent blood flow. Artery bypass surgery solves this problem by grafting a blood vessel from another part of the body, past the blocked artery, to improve the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. The full name of this procedure is Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG).
Coronary Angioplasty and Stenting
Coronary angioplasty and stenting is used to open up narrowed or blocked arteries which supply the heart vessel. During the treatment, the narrowed artery is stretched open with a balloon and a metal strut which is implanted into the coronary artery. This keeps the narrowed artery open and allows blood to flow more freely through it.
There are a number of processes used to repair and replace valves including use of balloon aortic valvuloplasty to open up a narrowed aortic valve. Valves can be repaired or replaced using artificial mechanical valves or natural tissue valves from pigs.
Interventions For Arrhythmias
If a patient has an abnormal heart rhythm and as a result their heart beat is out of sinus rhythm or beating too quickly (a condition known as tachycardia) or too slowly, various treatments normally performed by electrophysiologists are available.
These include catheter ablation, which is a surgical procedure where any areas producing electrical signals which interfere with the normal heart pacemaker are destroyed using a laser. There is also cardioversion, which uses a defibrillator to restart the heart. Pacemakers implanted to regulate an abnormal heart rhythm are also utilised.
Complications that can arise in cardiac surgery include:
Injury to heart valves or blood vessels
Severing of the aortic valve
Blood fills the sac surrounding the heart
Neurological issues arising from a lack of blood supply leading to memory loss, paralysis, or cerebral palsy
In order establish grounds for medical negligence, you will need to show that the treatment you received fell below a generally accepted reasonable level expected of a cardiac surgeon, his support team or the GP who diagnosed your condition.
The health care professionals at MNS have extensive experience with these types of compensation claims and have access to specialist medical opinion. After reviewing your medical records and obtaining the correct specialist medical advice, we will be able to confirm if your claim is likely to succeed.
The majority of claims we handle are on a no win no fee basis, so unless we succeed in your claim, you do not pay.
Frequently asked questions
How long will the claim take?
This will depend on the nature of your claim and how long you take to recover. As your legal adviser, we want to ensure you have access to your compensation swiftly, as soon as we are able to quantify your claim.
Will I have to lay out any money?
No, we will pay all outgoings on your case. If your case is successful, we will seek reimbursement from the responsible party at the conclusion of your claim. If you lose, you will pay nothing.