What Is Open-Heart Surgery?

Open-heart surgery is any procedure in which the surgeon makes a large incision to open up the rib cage in order to get to the heart. It is needed to perform a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), which is necessary to correct coronary heart disease. It can also be done to repair or replace heart valves, damaged or abnormal areas of the heart, implant medical devices or do a complete transplant.

The procedure itself will usually take about 4-6 hours, and the patient is given general anesthesia. An approximately eight-inch long incision is made, the breastbone is cut through to expose the heart, and the surgeon will do whatever is needed; no two open-heart surgeries are exactly alike. As with any major procedure, there are some risks involved.

Survival statistics for heart surgery are incredibly difficult to ascertain, because as previously mentioned, every surgery is different. Each patient has a unique set of risk factors, including age, health history, prior surgeries, overall heart function, and a host of other information of which your doctor and surgeon will need to be aware. Then a calculation can be made determining how long and well you will be able to live after the operation, along with the likelihood of complication.

The most common risks associated with the surgery that patients experience include: wound infection, irregular heartbeat, memory loss, blood clot, heart attack or kidney failure. Some of these are more common than others, but your doctor can be prepared and therefore treat all of these side effects, hopefully without any further damage to your health. The infection caused by a heater-cooler device is much more serious.

Heater-Cooler Lawsuits

In typical Missouri medical malpractice cases, the patient can sue the doctor or the hospital as a whole if they feel that either one acted negligently in diagnosing or treating the illness. In the case of a lawsuit involving a heater-cooler, it would be the manufacturer who comes under trial. Air filters in place on the machine are not adequate enough to efficiently clean the bacteria and prevent it from becoming airborne.

Open-heart surgery is an expensive procedure which requires much time to be missed from work and creates high medical bills. Becoming infected with NTM will only make these things much worse, and could have permanent effects on your life, such as hearing or vision loss. If the manufacturer fails to properly warn the doctor or the patient about the potential side effects, then they should be held responsible for their negligence.

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

In Missouri, the statute of limitations to file a medical malpractice claim is two years from the date the personal injury first occurred. This means that you may not have much time to put a lawsuit together given how long symptoms of NTM take to show themselves. It is possible to have the statute extended due to these circumstances by claiming that you could not have possibly known you were infected the day the disease was theoretically acquired.

A couple more exceptions apply; if the patient is less than 18 years old, then they have until they are 20 to file a malpractice claim, regardless of how many years removed they are from that age. Also, if the claim is being made because proper warning of a potential risk was not given, then the time starts from the date the injury was discovered, rather than when it first occurred. This will give more time to file a claim.

Spencer Eisenmenger
Helping Kansas City area medical malpractice, product liability, birth injury and personal injury clients.