Are You at Risk for a Heart Surgery Mistake?
Did you know that former Saturday Night Live cast member and comedian Dana Carvey was the victim of a heart surgery mistake?
In 1997, Carvey was out jogging when he started feeling chest pains. Doctors told Carvey he had a blocked artery and scheduled surgery to remove the blockage. The procedure was a failure because scar tissue formed and blocked the artery.
This time, Carvey’s doctor scheduled a bypass surgery. He underwent the operation and was released from the hospital. Carvey was out hiking weeks later, but felt chest pains and knew something was wrong.
He returned to the hospital to receive an X-ray of his blood vessels. Doctors had bad news for the comedian; the surgeon who conducted his bypass surgery had performed surgery on the wrong artery. This meant he could have had a heart attack at any moment! Surgeons conducted an emergency angioplasty and fixed the mistake.
According to Carvey, he never received an apology from the doctor. After the ordeal, Carvey sued the surgeon responsible for $7.5 million and later settled for an undisclosed amount.
How Do Heart Surgery Mistakes Happen?
Heart surgeons can incorrectly implant pacemakers, operate on the wrong area of the heart, or leave foreign objects behind. In addition, doctors can overinflate surgical balloons during angioplasties or release plaque into the arteries. These mistakes can have fatal implications for patients. In Carvey’s case, doctors told him he was a “ticking timebomb.”
Healthcare providers that make medical mistakes can kill or injure patients. Medical malpractice lawsuits can expose these mistakes so hospitals are obligated to prevent future errors.