Peripheral artery disease occurs when fat deposits narrow the arteries to the legs, causing numbness, weakness and cramps. In the worst cases, peripheral artery disease can lead to intense pain, leg amputations, heart attacks and stroke.
One of the ways doctors treat peripheral artery disease is through atherectomy. The outpatient procedure involves using catheters fitted with blades to cut off plaque and buildup along the arteries. However, recent reports suggest doctors are too enthusiastic about recommending the invasive treatment for even the mildest pains, even when risks are involved.
Why are doctors motivated to push for such a dangerous procedure? According to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) analyzed by ProPublica, 90 physicians representing the top 5% of doctors performing atherectomies accounted for over a third of all procedures paid by CMS from 2017 to 2021. Those physicians collected almost a billion dollars during those five years.
ProPublica also suggested that those physicians were motivated to recommend atherectomy for even the slightest leg pains when lifestyle changes and other safer ways to treat the disorder could’ve been suggested first.
The risks of atherectomies
Like any invasive procedure, atherectomies carry risks. The procedure could accidentally cut too deep and create a hole in the artery, leading to bleeding complications that could be fatal. The procedure can also lead to embolization when the removed fat blocks another artery. The most severe complications could also force doctors to amputate the leg.
If you had an atherectomy to treat peripheral artery disease, but the procedure led to medical complications, you could hold the doctor responsible through a medical malpractice lawsuit. Procedures such as atherectomies are costly, but the complications they can cause can cost you even more. Consider working with a legal professional experienced in malpractice law to ensure your case succeeds and that you receive enough compensation to pay for your injuries and damages.