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Swan-Ganz Catheterization Errors Can Cause Serious Patient Harm


There are countless technical terms involved with the practice of medicine so, like most people, you probably leave the definitions and details up to your Florida health care providers. However, there is one you should know about if you have heart issues or recently suffered a heart attack. A Swan-Ganz Catheterization is a type of diagnostic procedure used to determine if there are any abnormalities in the heart and lungs. When performed properly, the test allows physicians to identify and assess problems, and get the patient on track with an appropriate plan of care.

Still, a Swan-Ganz Catheterization is a somewhat invasive procedure that involves a certain amount of risk. Any mistakes by the doctor can lead to serious harm for the patient. You do have rights if you sustained injuries through a health care provider’s negligence, and a Florida medical malpractice lawyer can explain them in more detail. Some answers to frequently asked questions about Swan-Ganz catheter procedures are provided below. 

How does a Swan-Ganz catheterization work? The National Institute of Health provides a description of the procedure, which also goes by the terms right heart or pulmonary artery catheterization (PAC). The physician inserts a specialized catheter through the patient’s femoral, jugular, or other central vein to reach the right side of the heart, through which the doctor can access the pulmonary artery. It is then possible to determine presence of blood-flow related abnormalities by assessing the various components of the heart, including valves, chambers, and previously implanted mechanical shunts.

Why would I need a PAC? Your physician may recommend a Swan-Ganz catheter if:

  • You are at risk of heart problems based upon lifestyle choices or genetic predisposition;
  • You recently experienced an acute myocardial infarction (AMI), i.e., heart attack;
  • You suffer from pulmonary hypertension, a type of high blood pressure that impacts the right side of your heart and lungs;
  • You have blood flow issues; or,
  • You are having trouble with an intracardiac shunt.

Am I at risk of harm with a Swan-Ganz catheter? The procedure is safe if performed properly, and only after a comprehensive examination and consultation with your doctor. However, mistakes with the Swan-Ganz catheterization can lead to serious injuries and even death. Examples include:

  • Infection at the site of the catheter insertion, often due to unsterile equipment;
  • Excessive bleeding because of tearing at the insertion site;
  • Vein punctures or tears;
  • Puncture to the lung, which can lead it to collapse;
  • Blood clots;
  • Dangerously low blood pressure;
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat;
  • Cardiac tamponade, in which blood surrounds and compresses the heart, leading ventricles to not properly fill; and,
  • Pulmonary artery rupture, a life-threatening error that occurs when the physician slices into heart tissue.

Our Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Answer Additional Questions 

If you were injured or lost a loved one through a botched Swan-Ganz Catheterization, you may qualify to recover compensation for your losses. Our Miami medical malpractice lawyers at Freidin Brown, P.A. are experienced in medical malpractice cases, which are the primary focus at our practice. To learn more about your rights, please contact our offices to set up a free consultation with one of our skilled lawyers.


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