Cardiology & heart disease negligence claims
Serious heart conditions can cause a lot of distress for patients and their families. So, incidents of medical negligence during your treatment can add unnecessary pressure and worry to an already stressful situation.
At Fletchers Solicitors, our team of specialist medical negligence solicitors will take the stress out of the claims process. We have over 400 years’ combined experience dealing with medical negligence and cardiology cases, so you can rest assured we’ll bring the best legal minds to your case.
What are cardiac surgery negligence and heart disease claims?
The term “cardiac” simply means “related to the heart” and “cardiology” refers to dealing with disorders of the heart.
Common cardiac conditions include:
- High blood pressure
- Ischaemic heart disease
- Myocardial infarction
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Heart failure
- Pulmonary oedema
Cardiac surgery negligence occurs when cardiologists, doctors and nurses have missed symptoms of, or misdiagnosed heart conditions and disorders. Negligence also occurs when medical professionals give a substandard level of care.
Cardiologists may use a variety of tests to diagnose various heart conditions, including chest x-rays, Electrocardiograms and Echocardiograms. Sometimes a medical professional can misinterpret symptoms of heart conditions on test results, or miss them entirely.
Different types of cardiac surgery negligence and heart disease claims
At Fletchers Solicitors, we deal with a lot of cases for heart conditions that are congenital or hereditary.
A congenital heart condition is a problem with the structure of the heart, which develops before a baby is born. These affect almost one in 100 births in the UK.
The most common congenital conditions include:
- Septal defects or ‘hole in the heart’ (Ventricular Septal Defect, Atrial Septal Defect) – when there is a hole between two of the heart’s chambers
- Aortic Stenosis or Coarctation of the Aorta – narrowing of the body’s main artery
- Pulmonary valve stenosis – narrowing of the pulmonary valve
- Ebstein Anomaly – a rare heart defect that affects the formation of the tricuspid valve
- Patent ductus arteriosus – an extra blood vessel found in babies before birth and just after birth
- Patent Foramen Ovale – when a flap between the top 2 chambers of the heart does not close the way it should do at birth
- Tetralogy of Fallot – when four related heart defects change the way blood flows to the lungs and through the heart
- Truncus Arteriosus – when a child is born with one large artery carrying blood to the lungs and body instead of two separate arteries
An inherited heart condition develops because there is a ‘mistake’ or mutation in a baby’s genes. Inherited conditions are passed on through families and around 600,000 people in the UK have a faulty gene that can put them at high risk of developing a heart condition.
The most common inherited conditions include:
- Disease of the heart muscle – cardiomyopathies
- Very high cholesterol levels from birth – familial hypercholesterolaemia
- Abnormal heart rhythms.
The majority of heart diseases and cardiac problems are treated successfully through the NHS. However, when mistakes are made, our expert team are on hand to ensure patients get the compensation and treatment they deserve.
Fletchers Solicitors has represented patients who have experienced:
- Delay in diagnosis and treatment of the underlying condition
- Delayed treatment
- Delayed referral/tests
- Surgical error leading to avoidable injury
- Retained surgical equipment
- Incorrect medication prescribed
Cardiac arrest claims
People often think that a cardiac arrest and a heart attack are the same thing, but this isn’t true.
A cardiac arrest is when your heart suddenly stops pumping blood around your body, commonly because of a problem with electrical signals in your heart. When your heart stops pumping blood, your brain is starved of oxygen. This causes you to fall unconscious and stop breathing.
A heart attack happens when blood supplying the heart muscle is cut off due to a clot in one of the coronary arteries. This can cause chest pain, although symptoms can be less severe, and can permanently damage the heart. The heart is still sending blood to the body and the person will be conscious and breathing. A person having a heart attack has a high risk of experiencing a cardiac arrest.
The outcomes for heart attack victims are strongly linked to the length of time between the outset of cardiac arrest and receiving direct treatment, so it’s crucial that heart attacks are identified quickly and treated quickly. Symptoms can often be mistaken for heartburn, which can cause fatal consequences.
If you have suffered a cardiac arrest which could have been prevented by earlier intervention or treatment, you may be able to bring a claim for negligence against the medical professional responsible for your care.
Pacemaker lead misplacement
A pacemaker is a small electrical device that is fitted in the chest or abdomen to treat abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
As with many types of surgery, there are recognised complications which can arise from pacemaker fitting, including lead dislodgement, pneumothorax, heart perforation and infection. Complications during surgery do not necessarily mean that negligence has occurred.
However, negligence claims can be made for patients who suffered avoidable harm due to incorrect surgical procedure. If you believe that you have suffered an injury arising from an incorrectly fitted pacemaker, we may be able to assist you with a claim.
Other potential claims arising from negligent pacemaker insertion might include:
- Delayed treatment/provision of pacemaker
- Pacemaker malfunction which is not corrected
- Surgical error causing nerve injury during replacement of pacemaker
Is there a time limit on making a cardiac surgery or heart disease negligence claim?
It is important to remember that a claim for negligence must be made within three years of the date which you became aware of this affecting you. However, if the claim relates to a child under the age of 18, this time limit for bringing a claim will not begin to run until their 18th birthday.
There are various types of conditions relating to the heart which may require some form of treatment and many could also need surgery. Due to the extent and variety of these conditions, there is no generalised or correct time for treatment to be provided, and it will generally fall within the remit of the experts we instruct to determine whether the cardiologist or other treating professional has failed to provide treatment to the relevant standard, which has led to avoidable harm.
Contact us today to find out how we can guide you through the legal process.