Last month, we wrote about a fraud investigation showing the extreme degree to which stents are implanted into heart patients who don’t need them.
The overuse and/or inappropriate use of stents has been in the news a lot lately, and late last month a notorious abuser of this procedure was busted-again-by a jury of his peers.
As reported on AboutLawsuits.com, cardiologist Mark Midei and the St. Joseph Medical Center north of Baltimore were deemed liable to a local patient because the doctor breached the accepted standards of medical care by implanting a heart stent when he didn’t need one.
Midei has been in trouble for a while-we wrote about his unsavory stent lust a few years ago. At the time, St. Joseph had to pay $22 million to settle claims that it paid kickbacks to the cardiology group co-founded by Midei, who was accused of performing hundreds of unnecessary heart procedures. Scores of lawsuits were filed, and Midei was stripped of his license.
A U.S. Justice Department investigation into Medicare fraud first unearthed the problems with unnecessary heart stents and kickbacks between the hospital and the provider
As reported by AboutLawsuits, Midei had been considered a star cardiologist whose former patients said he told them that they had severe coronary blockages that required placement of a stent. A federal investigation concluded that they had only minor blockages that did not warrant stent placement.
Midei’s case now moves to the phase where jurors determine the amount of damages. The patient claims that he lost millions of dollars from scaling back his business because he was worried that the medical problems he never had would get worse.
Stents are implanted to keep blocked arteries open. The cost can be $10,000 or more.
Clinical guidelines say that the procedure isn’t appropriate unless an artery is blocked at least 70%. A review of Midei’s former patients showed that many were well under 50%; that’s usually considered “insignificant.” In some cases, says AboutLawsuits, patients found out later that even though they got stents, their arteries were only 10% blocked.
Settlements have been reached in nearly 250 lawsuits against St. Joseph and Midei, but, according to AboutLawsuits, dozens have yet to be resolved.