Heart Patients 'Need More Information on Operations'

A Cardiologist Has Called For Heart Patients To Be Given More Details About Common Procedures


Heart patients need to receive more details about common procedures before their operations, an expert has insisted.

According to Dr Aseem Malhotra, a consultant cardiologist, people suffering from stable angina often have misconceptions about the advantages of undergoing angioplasty.

Indeed, he said research has found that nearly nine in ten patients in the US mistakenly believe the procedure could reduce their chances of having a heart attack.

As a result, he believes a similar proportion of people in the UK could also have erroneous ideas about the operation.

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, Dr Malhotra has therefore called for people to be given clearer information ahead of any operation, so they are aware of what the likely outcomes will be.

"It is imperative to provide patients with all the information before subjecting them to a procedure that still carries a one per cent risk of heart attack, stroke or death," he commented.

Dr Malhotra went on to warn that the payment by activity system for English hospitals could be encouraging NHS clinicians to recommend angioplasty to patients.

In addition, he suggested the operation may also be being performed unnecessarily in a number of private hospitals throughout the country.

Dr Malhotra's comments have been supported by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which said this issue is becoming increasingly important to the medical profession.

Professor Terence Stephenson, chairman of the body, told BBC News: "This is an example of a legitimate debate of appropriate or inappropriate use of clinical procedures or interventions."

"It is primarily about providing appropriate good quality care but is particularly important when resources are limited."

However, the British Cardiovascular Intervention Society has questioned Dr Malhotra's suggestion that information on the likely outcomes of angioplasty be made clear on patient consent forms.

A spokesman said this is not the best way of ensuring people understand their treatment.

He added that there is no evidence that heart patients in the UK have not been treated appropriately.

Expert Opinion
The only way that patients and their loved ones are able to make informed decisions regarding care is if they are given quality information regarding the drugs and treatments which are available to help them.

"It is vital that in all situations, medical experts do what they can to ensure those under their care are given an opportunity to understand and give their approval to certain procedures. It is unacceptable that a person would not be able to give consent regarding the treatment they are given in a hospital or other medical practice.

"The concerns raised here are very serious and should be investigated further to ensure that a proper understanding can be formed as to whether further action is necessary."
Mandy Luckman, Partner