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Atrial Septal Defect Attorneys in Chicago Illinois

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)

Atrial Septal DefectsA congenital birth defect that involves a hole in the septum (wall) which divides the upper chambers (atria) of the heart is referred to as an Atrial Septal Defect. This defect may be discovered during pregnancy in an ultrasound, after birth, or in some cases much later in life with an electrocardiogram (EKG). During development, the fetus has many such holes in the heart, but they are supposed to close over time. When they do not close normally, this congenital defect is the result.

The Atrial Septal Defect may be very small and virtually unnoticed, requiring no treatment or just medication to treat minor symptoms. In other cases, the hole may be large and require immediate surgery to avoid damage to the blood vessels of the lungs. In rare cases, the hole may be so large and allow so much blood to flow through that it can cause growth issues, excessive fatigue, shortness of breath, or congestive heart failure.

Symptoms and Signs of Atrial Septal Defect

Although many babies are not diagnosed at birth with an Atrial Septal Defect, this untreated condition may result in some of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Swelling of feet, legs, or stomach
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Stroke
  • Fatigue while baby is feeding
  • Whooshing sound heard by stethoscope
  • Missing heartbeats

Treatment for Atrial Septal Defect

Although some smaller holes are treated with medication, larger holes may require open heart surgery, closure by way of a transcatheter device during cardiac catheterization, or FDA approved devices such as the Helex Septal Occluder or the Amplatzer Septal Occluder.

Medical Malpractice Claims for Atrial Septal Defects

Atrial Septal Defects are congenital conditions. But that doesn’t mean that this defect is always a naturally occurring condition, as heart defects may result from both genetic and environmental factors. Sometimes, a doctor may fail in his or her duty to the mother and fetus to help prevent, diagnose, or treat an ASD. Some of the ways that this might happen include:

  • Failing to recognize risk factors: Certain circumstances exist that make the likelihood of an ASD more probable, including contracting German measles during pregnancy, alcohol and drug use, or a family history of congenital heart defects. A doctor needs to be keep these risk factors in mind during the pregnancy, and the presence of any such factors may warrant additional testing and closer observation.
  • Negligent prescription of medications: When a woman is pregnant, certain medications and drugs that would otherwise be safe to take are no longer considered safe or advisable. It is the duty of the doctor to monitor and advise the patient about what is safe and what is not. But even more, a doctor should never prescribe medications that increase the likelihood for heart or other defects. Some antidepressants known as SSRIs (such as Paxil, Prozac, Symbyax, Celexa and Zoloft) have been associated with defects such as ASDs. Doctors may be subject to a medical malpractice lawsuit and drug companies may be subject to a product liability lawsuit under some of these circumstances.
  • Failing to diagnose the defect: Many diagnostic tests are available during pregnancy and after birth to help diagnose defects such as ASDs. The proper diagnosis of an ASD is vital to proper treatment and determining whether corrective surgery is a good idea. During pregnancy, this is usually done by ultrasound, although after birth a doctor may use echocardiogram, cardiac catheterization, MRI, electrocardiogram or other diagnostic tests. If a doctor fails to diagnose or misdiagnoses a defect such as an ASD, it may be medical negligence.
  • Failing to properly treat: Sometimes a heart defect will go unnoticed and create other complications. The longer the defect goes unnoticed or untreated, the higher the risk for complications, including:
    • Pulmonary hypertension
    • Heart failure
    • Atrial fibrillation
    • Stroke

A failure to properly treat an ASD, even one that is caused by a genetic abnormality, may be medical malpractice under some circumstances.

Contact an Experienced Chicago Atrial Septal Defect Attorney

Whether during pregnancy or afterwards, and whether during childhood or during adulthood, it is a doctor’s medical responsibility to look for, avoid, diagnose, and treat congenital heart defects such as an ASD. In some circumstances, the heart defect may have been avoided by better medical care, whereas in others, the condition may have been genetic and unavoidable. But in either circumstance, medical malpractice happens when a doctor fails to meet the “standard of care” for avoidance, diagnosis, or treatment of that defect.

If you believe that you or a loved one has been harmed by a negligent action (or failure to act) of a doctor or other medical provider, call a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC today for free information about how we can help. Millions have been collected and there is never a fee to discuss your case. Call us 24 hours a day at (800) 996-4824.

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