The Baltimore Sun reports today that another 169 patients have been notified by St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland, that the coronary stent implants they received may well have been (read – were) unnecessary. The total number of patients so far notified by the hospital has now reached 538.
Stents, mesh tubes that are threaded into damaged arteries to prop them open, are generally considered appropriate when vessels have at least a 70 percent blockage. But hospital officials say their review uncovered stents implanted by Midei in patients with insignificant blockage. And attorneys representing some patients say the amount of blockage was often overstated in their medical records.
Dr. Mark Midei, a cardiologist at the center of this storm, was terminated by St. Joseph Medical Center after the hospital came under investigation by federal authorities last year. He at one time was an employee of one of the leading cardiology group practices in the area, MidAtlantic Cardiovascular Associates, but left that group when he was recruited by St. Joseph Medical Center to head its cardiovascular laboratory in 2008. His departure from his group was apparently not peaceful.
[Dr. Midei's] departure helped scuttle a deal MidAtlantic had to merge with St. Joseph rival Medstar Health, and prompted the practice’s chief executive to tell Midei: “I will spend the rest of my life trying to destroy you personally and professionally,” according to court records.
A class action lawsuit has been filed by the the Murphy Firm in Baltimore, Maryland, working in conjunction with another Baltimore legal powerhouse, The Law Offices of Peter Angelos. These firms have been involved in many class action lawsuits across the country. The current lawsuit has been filed in Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland. On January 28, 2010, the Murphy firm posted an announcement regarding this class action. A similar press release detailing some of the relief being sought in the class action is posted on Peter Angelos’ firm’s website.
In February of this year, according to the Sun’s report today, “two senior members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee called on St. Joseph to turn over records of its financial relationships with stent manufacturers, including records of how the $10,000 procedures were billed to federal and private insurers.”
“In addition to putting patients’ lives at risk, unnecessary medical procedures amount to wasteful spending of precious federal health care dollars,” they wrote in a letter to the hospital.
As for Dr. Midei’s comments or reaction to today’s article, the Sun reports:
A spokesman for Midei declined to comment. He reiterated a statement the doctor issued in January, which read: “I am confident that I have always acted in the best interest of my patients, and when all the facts are presented, I will continue providing quality medical care to my patients.”