As news broke in January 2010 of an investigation of unnecessary stenting procedures performed by Dr. Mark Midei, the news media quickly began their investigations into the ‘who, what, where, when and how’ of this breaking scandal involving a local area hospital, St. Joseph Medical Center.
By now, many are aware that lawsuits have been filed against the hospital. Information has been revealed about a Medicare investigation, an in-hospital review panel assigned the task of reviewing the procedures performed by the former Chief of Cardiology, Dr. Mark Midei, letters written to former patients of Midei, a senate investigation and most recently, a broadened investigation by state agencies looking into the stenting practices of others beyond Midei and St. Joseph Medical Center.
While the details of the investigations, the termination of Midei and some information about what is at the center of this storm have been revealed, what does not appear to be appreciated or at least reported is the impact on patients, who were the victims of this unnecessary stenting.
We will soon begin a series of articles on the history of angioplasty, stenting, the types of stents being used over time, the risks to patients based on the type of stent used, the implications to future care and health of patients who were subjected to this alleged fraudulent conduct. It is only with an understanding of some of these basic issues that the true impact of this alleged (but hospital-admitted) conduct is appreciated. This whole controversy is not just about lawsuits against certain healthcare providers and the reputation of those providers. It is about how the lives of many people have been impacted by the senseless conduct of these healthcare providers.
Do you really understand what angioplasty and stenting are all about? Do you know when they are indicated and when they are not? Do you appreciate what placing a piece of metal inside a coronary blood vessel means to the health and welfare of a patient, who never needed this foreign body placed in them? What does it mean to be on Plavix and aspirin for weeks, months, a year or beyond? What role does the past medical history of patient play in determining when stenting is the right choice for any given patient? What understanding do you have as to the risks associated with ‘bare metal stents’ or ‘drug eluting stents’? Are there uniform recommendations over the past years when stenting rose in popularity as a’ less-invasive, safer’ alternative to by-pass grafting? What vessels can be stented safely? What does it mean for a patient who already has a stent in place to receive a second, third or fourth stent if one or more of those additional stents were absolutely unnecessary? What mechanisms are in place, or should be in place to detect unnecessary procedures being performed in a hospital? Were those procedures in place and being used by St. Joseph Medical Center? Did Dr. Midei just happen to allegedly start performing unnecessary stent procedures after becoming employed by St. Joseph Medical Center? How far-reaching is this alleged fraud?
These are just some of the issues we will be addressing. If you already know the answers to all these questions, then you need not waste your time educating yourself by reading the information we intend to provide. Of course, if you think that this whole incident is of no real significance and just a whole lot to do about nothing – the veritable tempest in a teapot, then you need not read any further.
However, if you are at all wondering what this means to real people whose lives may now be altered or in jeopardy because of what may prove to be simple greed by healthcare providers, then we welcome you to this series. Of course, if you are at all wondering how it is conceivable that – at a bare minimum – 585 unnecessary procedures were performed by one physician in one hospital over a period of less than two years yet allegedly remained undetected by that hospital’s administrators, then you just may want to read along as the story develops. Finally, if you are now wondering in light of recent reports – was this just one doctor at one hospital over just two years? – you may definitely want to stay current with what will be revealed over time on these issues as well.
I’ll end for now with the usual disclaimer: Our law firm, Nash & Associates, has recently been invited by the principals of The Murphy Firm to join the litigation team in the class action lawsuit against St. Joseph Medical Center. While we are limited in what we may reveal to you, we are not limited in providing you with an education of those issues of medicine and law that are relevant to this entire controversy. That will be the scope of this series, which we believe will put many of the more central issues – such as the harm to real people – in better perspective.