Hospitals Slow To Respond To Cardiac Arrest

Article posted on:02/12/2008

As set forth in the New York Times last month, the results of a new study have shown that in nearly a third of cases hospital staffs take too long to respond to sudden cardiac arrests. The study, to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that the delays contribute to increased rates of brain damages and death each year. Data for the study were gathered from records at 369 hospitals where patients' hearts stopped because of conditions that could be reversed using a defibrillator.

According to the American Heart Association, regardless of whether you have been trained, you should begin CPR with chest compressions on a person who you suspect is having a heart attack or is  unconscious from a heart attack.  With each passing minute after a heart attack, more heart tissue loses oxygen and begins to deteriorate and die.  The way to prevent heart damage is to restore the flow of blood quickly.  Medications that are typically given to heart attack victims include aspirin (reduces blood clotting, helping blood flow through a narrowed artery), clotbusters or thrombolytics (help dissolve a clot in your artery), super aspirins, nitroglycerin (temporarily opens arterial blood vessels, improving blood flow), beta blockers (help relax your heart muscle, slow your heartbeat and decrease blood pressure, making heart's job easier), ACE inhibitors (lower blood pressure and reduce stress of heart), and cholesterol lowering medications (otherwise known as statins). 

Heart attack victims or individuals believed to be at risk for an imminent heart attack often undergo one of several procedures:  1.  coronary angioplasty and stenting which opens up the blocked arteries and lets blood flow more freely to your heart.  A catheter is generally inserted from the patient's groin through an artery up to the heart whereupon a stent (metal mesh) is inserted into the opened artery to keep it open long term.   The stents are generally medicated to prevent any infection from occurring and to keep clots from attaching to the metal mesh itself and blocking the flow of blood.  In some instances, notwithstanding the stents, the artery will become increasingly narrower and a patient will need to undergo the procedure again with the insertion of new or longer stents.  Angioplasty refers to the procedure that doctors use to identify narrowed arteries to the heart..   2.  Coronary artery bypass surgery.  This procedure involves sewing veins or arteries in place at a site beyond a blocked or narrowed coronary artery, thereby restoring blood flow to the heart, by bypassing the affected area. 

If you or a loved one believe you have been the victim of medical malpractice regarding the failure to timely diagnose you with a heart attack and/or failure to properly treat you following a heart attack, contact the attorneys at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White at 410-385-2225 for a free consultation or visit our website to set up your free consultation.  Our attorneys generally handle these matters on a contingency fee basis, meaning we lay out the expenses in advance and our clients do not owe us any money unless we are successful for them in a settlement or after trial.