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When Pacemaker Implant Surgery Goes Wrong

On Behalf of | Nov 25, 2017 | Library, Medical Malpractice

When medical devices need to be implanted into someone’s body for health reasons, there is always the risk for complications. But when a complication arises as a result of a doctor’s error and downright negligence, then a claim for medical malpractice may be warranted. Sometimes this is the case following pacemaker implantation.

Understanding Pacemakers

Pacemakers are small electronic devices implanted into a person’s body in an effort to restore a normal heartbeat. When people suffer from a dysfunctional heartbeat, it may mean the heart’s natural pacemaker is failing to function correctly, causing the timing of the heartbeat to be uncoordinated and out of rhythm. Doctors call this arrhythmia. When this happens, blood isn’t effectively being pumped throughout the body.

Pacemakers are implanted into patients every day throughout our nation. In fact, it is considered a routine procedure. Millions of people have undergone pacemaker implant procedures.

Who Needs a Pacemaker?

Pacemakers can help treat a few different heart conditions. Most commonly, pacemakers are used for people who suffer from bradycardic arrhythmias (abnormally slow heartbeat) and for those with tachy-brady syndrome (when the heart beats too fast and other times too slow, which is often the case in people with atrial fibrillation). People who have heart block (where there is an interruption in the electrical impulses causing an irregular heartbeat) also benefit from pacemaker implants.

Pacemakers are used to help people have a better quality of life. When someone’s heartbeat is irregular, a pacemaker typically helps normalize the heartbeat. For those who have heart rhythm problems or are prone to strokes, pacemaker implants are generally effective in helping people with these conditions live longer. However, even though some people find themselves in a better place following a pacemaker procedure, others suffer complications after pacemaker implant surgery.

Although in most cases, pacemakers are able to effectively slow the heart rate down or treat other problems with the heart’s electrical activity, there are still inherent risks associated with pacemaker implants.

Complications and Risks of Pacemaker Implant Procedures

Shockingly, it is possible for a surgeon to perforate an artery while attempting to implant a pacemaker. For instance, a subclavian artery may be perforated or an appendage and ventricle could be perforated during surgery, causing a patient to suffer a stroke or die as a result of hemorrhagic shock. Even if death doesn’t occur, a patient could suffer a collapsed lung, bleeding, or an infection.

Other types of complications that can occur as a result of pacemaker implant errors include:

  • Pain. When a pacemaker is implanted incorrectly or it is bulging out of one’s chest, pain can be the result. Additionally, a patient can suffer from fever, infections (such as sepsis) and even emotional pain as a result. 
  • Additional surgeries. If a pacemaker implant procedure is botched due to medical negligence, a patient will have to undergo an additional intrusive procedure or even multiple surgeries to fix the problem. 
  • Unnecessary medical bills. Additional tests, doctors’ appointments, and surgeries all mean additional expenses. Often times, doctors and hospitals will deny negligence and leave the patient to foot the additional expenses. 
  • Lost earnings. If someone has to undergo multiple procedures and is recovering from infections or pain, it is very difficult (and often impossible) to work and make a living. Unfortunately, a victim of such medical negligence could suffer lost wages or permanently lost earning capacity.

When any type of injury occurs during surgery or following this type of surgery, medical negligence could be to blame. If you believe you were injured or you lost a loved one due to a medical professional’s negligence or a malfunctioning pacemaker, you may have a legal claim for your damages.

Although medical negligence in cases such as these may seem difficult to establish, it can be done by proving the physician violated the standard of care. We frequently and successfully handle medical malpractice cases, and we have the experience you are looking for. We would be honored to speak with you and answer your questions in a free consultation.