Some very sad words from the comments section of a previous post on atrial fibrillation…
I am very sorry for your loss.
Making many ablation lesions in the left atrium confers significant risk. Your tragedy highlights the dilemma of medical decision making. Indeed, AF ablation is often successful, but there is risk, and complications can be life-altering or life-ending, as your words describe.
We ablators struggle with this balance of information. We have to inform our patients of the risks, and these words of admonishment should be clear. However, patients can be scared out of a potentially curative procedure if presented with a litany of disasters in an un-elegant manner. Herein lies the delicate balance of treating atrial fibrillation –a highly symptomatic, but not immediately life threatening disease –with a potentially life threatening, but mostly safe procedure.
Many years ago, a colleague spoke the words, “AF is not a life threatening disease, don’t make it one.“
Complications occur and I wish they didn’t. When I have them, it changes my life, and my practice of medicine, but one thing for sure; the affected patient will be seeing more, not less, of me afterwards. Paradoxically, some of my most gratified patients are ones who have suffered procedural complications, who as a result of the adverse outcome, garnered much attention from me.
These words of tragedy help us, and I am grateful you wrote them. They help us learn, and this makes us better, both as clinicians and as people.