Stem cell therapy and other forms of regenerative medicine promise to cure everything from aging to Zika virus—if the ads can be believed. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous practitioners are taking large sums of money for worthless treatments.
What is even worse, is that all too often, patients suffer serious harm due to stem cell therapy malpractice. You can protect yourself by recognizing the signs of stem cell therapy malpractice. When patients take public action such as filing a lawsuit, they help call attention to the problems and prevent others from suffering injuries in the future.
Understanding Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells are the building blocks of the human body. These cells have the ability to develop into cells with specific functions such as bone cells or heart muscle cells. No other types of cells have this type of capability. For that reason, scientists conduct studies to help understand how conditions develop within the body. They also try to use stem cells to generate healthy cells to replace cells damaged by injury or disease.
In stem cell therapy, researchers grow stem cells in a laboratory, manipulating them to form specific types of cells such as nerve cells. Then medical professionals implant these specialized cells into the body of the patient seeking treatment. For instance, a patient with heart disease might have heart muscle cells injected into heart muscle in the hopes that the transplanted cells would help repair the injured heart. The concept is based on the idea that stem cells can promote a repair response in injured or dysfunctional tissue. It is considered by many to be the logical progression in organ transplant technology. Donor organs can be hard to come by, but stem cells can be grown more readily. However, their growth is not always predictable, nor is their reaction inside a recipient’s body.
Stem Cell Procedures are Still Considered Risky and Experimental
The best-known uses of stem cell therapy involve treatment to encourage a patient’s immune system to fight certain types of cancer and diseases of the blood such as lymphoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma. Some scientists believe stem cell therapy has the potential to cure virtually any problem in the human body whether by disease such as an infection or by an external source such as burns.
However, it is important to note that even in the most common applications, stem cell therapy is still treated as a last resort. Patients who have had their immune systems essentially destroyed by other treatments finally turn to stem cell therapy when they have no other options available. While stem cell therapy has been used successfully in bone marrow transplants and to help regenerate skin or the cornea, this form of therapy is not proven in other applications despite what providers might suggest in their advertisements.
Warning Signs of Potential Malpractice
Stem cell therapy can be very risky. Before agreeing to a procedure, make sure you see none of these warning signs of potential malpractice:
Claims that a Procedure is “Risk-Free”
No medical procedure is risk-free, period. If any provider claims they can offer you a treatment with no risk, that is a sign you’re dealing with a provider who is comfortable making misrepresentations. Complications from stem cell therapy have included infection, blindness, and brain damage.
Claims That Are Based Entirely on Anecdotes
If all the evidence to support the effectiveness of the treatment comes from patient testimonials, that is a sign of a problem. A provider should be able to point to documented research to support the success of the particular type of treatment they propose to provide to you. Stories about the wonderful results others have achieved can be persuasive, but avoid the temptation to rely on them. Those results could be due to other causes entirely—or they could be fictitious.
Claims That One Type of Cell Can Fix Everything
Some providers promise that stem cell therapy can prompt your body to regenerate everything, like the fountain of youth. They insist that your body has the ability to heal itself and the application of stem cells will trigger that miraculous ability.
But if a practitioner promises that one type of cell will work on macular degeneration, heart disease, and stretch marks, you should realize those claims are absolutely false. You need specific cells—and specific treatment—to handle each separate issue. There is no miracle cell that can address all of your body’s repair needs.
Lack of Documentation About the Source of the Cells
Stem cell research is controversial, and the source of the cells is one major reason why. The medical provider who proposes to perform stem cell treatment on you should be able to give you clear documentation showing where the cells have come from. If they cannot, you will have no idea what they are actually putting into your body.
Understand the Risks
Some patients are investing thousands of dollars to have their blood or tissue extracted, manipulated, and reinjected. While scientists have been able to successfully manipulate stem cells in certain specific cases, the “work” being performed by many practitioners is worthless at best.
This field of medicine has been largely unregulated when it comes to consumers. Patients have suffered from unwanted growths and other unintended consequences.
An Attorney Can Work to Hold Practitioners Accountable for Malpractice
Stem cell therapy seems to hold a great deal of promise to cure a variety of ailments in the human body. However, researchers are still learning how these cells work and how to perform therapy safely in the human body.
If you have suffered harm caused by stem cell therapy malpractice or any form of medical malpractice, you owe it to yourself and other patients to investigate your options. A lawsuit could hold those responsible accountable, provide compensation for your pain and other losses, and help protect others in the future. Contact the experienced team at Searcy Denney to learn how we could assist in your case.