Cardiovascular surgeons are specialist surgeons who perform heart operations. They are a subset of another specialty, cardiothoracic surgeons, who specialize in surgical operations on the chest, which includes the heart and lungs. When cardiovascular surgeons commit medical malpractice, it can often be fatal.
Education and Licensing Requirements for Cardiovascular Surgeons
Cardiovascular surgeons need to have a bachelor's degree from college, as well as an M.D. or D.O. degree from medical school. After graduating from medical school, cardiovascular surgeons have to complete a five-to-seven year surgical residency program. After that, they need to finish a fellowship that specializes in cardiovascular surgical procedures. This fellowship usually takes two or three years.
In total, this means cardiovascular surgeons take 15 years from starting their education to beginning to practice. Some medical programs have opened that are designed to cut this down a little bit by combining the surgical residency program with the cardiovascular fellowship. These programs, though, are in their infancy.
After finishing their education requirements, cardiovascular surgeons have to become licensed to practice. They have to get a general medical license just like any other doctor. To claim their specialty in cardiovascular surgery, though, they have to get board certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.
How Cardiovascular Surgeons Practice Medicine in Philadelphia
Patients often see cardiovascular surgeons in the hospital just before, and immediately after, a serious heart procedure like:
- Open heart surgery
- Bypass surgery
- Heart transplants
While cardiovascular surgeons usually practice in hospitals, though, they are rarely actually employed by them. Instead, hospitals hire cardiovascular surgeons as independent contractors, in large part in an attempt to avoid liability for their malpractice.
Medical Malpractice by Cardiovascular Surgeons
Cardiovascular surgeons can commit medical malpractice just like any other healthcare professional. Unfortunately, because they perform high-risk surgeries that carry some severe repercussions if any mistake – even a small one – is made, the malpractice committed by cardiovascular surgeons is often fatal or permanently debilitating.
For example, if a cardiovascular surgeon's tool slips during a heart procedure, it can cause severe and potentially irreparable tissue damage to the heart.
Mistakes like these are actually becoming more common because the number of cardiovascular surgeons who are practicing is well below what is needed for an increasing demand on the field. According to the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, there are only around 4,000 cardiothoracic surgeons practicing in the U.S. in 2010; a number that was expected to drop to 3,000 by 2030, given the decline in medical students pursuing the practice. Meanwhile, cardiothoracic surgeries are expected to increase in that timeframe from 530,000 to 854,000.
This means the cardiovascular surgeons who do practice are going to be swamped with surgeries, which will probably increase the number and the rate of malpractice. If the educational and training requirements for cardiovascular surgeons are dropped so more doctors specialize in it, malpractice will become more common because of the lower skill level among professionals in the field.
Medical Malpractice in Philadelphia with Gilman & Bedigian
The lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian represent victims of medical malpractice in Philadelphia. Contact them online.