Archive for the ‘senate investigation’ Category

Investigation into unnecessary stent procedures broadens in scope.

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Stent Fraud Investigation

As I notified our Facebook followers earlier today, the Baltimore Sun published an exclusive lead article on a broadening ‘stent investigation.’ What started out as a scandal involving one cardiologist (Dr. Mark Midei) at one

hospital (St. Joseph Medical Center), now has the potential to encompass the activities of other interventional cardiologists at other area hospitals.

I have been reporting on this since early in the St. Joseph investigation. Keep in mind, I have also advised our readers that our firm is now part of the class action litigation team with the Murphy firm and by extension the Angelos law firm. While I can not share with you any details of what our investigation has revealed to date, I will keep you informed of developments in our ongoing investigation and those being conducted by the news media and Maryland agencies as they progress and become public.

What is at the center of today’s report in the Baltimore Sun is the investigation by Maryland health officials.

Several cardiologists in the state have performed a suspiciously high number of the same invasive cardiac stent procedures that Dr. Mark G. Midei is accused of over-performing at St. Joseph Medical Center, according to an analysis of data from the state’s Health Services Cost Review Commission.

Investigators plan to review the work of the other cardiologists — who were not identified to The Baltimore Sun — going back five years. Sources also said they expect the investigation to eventually expand to include inquiries into other medical specialties and procedures.

Without revealing any confidential information, suffice it to say that based on our investigations to date, this news comes as no surprise. Keep in mind also that when St. Joseph conducted its own internal review and issued letters to 585 patients advising them that their stents were not medically indicated, this was based on an investigation for less than a two year period of time while Dr. Midei was a full-time employee of St. Joseph Medical Center. Dr. Midei took on this position with the hospital in January 2008. He was previously an employee of MidAtlantic Cardiovascular Associates. One might wonder if Dr. Midei’s performance of unnecessary stent procedures was isolated to his new position at St. Joseph.

For the present, let me leave you with some food for thought. These stent procedures costs usually in excess of $10,000 per procedure. As the Sun reports, in the last fiscal year alone, stent procedures brought in $220,000,000 to Maryland hospitals alone. Just how many people needed stents in one year in one state?

There were supposed to be review systems in place in-hospital and at the state agency level to guard against any fraud in the performance of unnecessary  procedures for monetary gain. How well do you think those systems worked? Hospitals have what is known as peer review committees to monitor the conduct of doctors, patient care, outcomes and the like. How did Dr. Midei’s conduct escape detection? As the Sun points out in its “St. Joseph timeline”:

May 2010: State regulatory documents indicate that Midei was able to avoid St. Joseph’s peer review process because, as a department head, he chose which cases would be reviewed. (emphasis all mine!)

Well that makes sense – sort of. We’ll see just how much attention was being paid to Dr. Midei’s (and perhaps others’) conduct by the hospital itself as the dollars came flowing in. Is this somewhat like putting the fox in charge of the hen house? We’ll just have to see. Discovery in our class action lawsuit is just starting. Stay tuned!

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact: Lisa Bennett, 410-951-8811 or 410-940-8590
Lisa.Bennett@murphypa.com

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

The Baltimore Business Journal just reported online that St. Joseph Medical Center has announced that it is now finished its review of the controversial stent procedures performed by Dr. Mark Midei between May 2007 and mid-2009.

In a statement released to the Baltimore Business Journal, hospital officials had to correct an earlier estimate provided by the hospital’s CEO, Jeff Norman, this past April 19th, when he indicated that the number of unnecessary stent implantations totaled 538. The so-called ‘final’ number, according to the report, is now 47 more than the last figure or a total of 585 patients, who have now been notified that “their blockage may not have been so severe to warrant a stent implanted by Dr. Midei.”    

We have been covering this St. Joe’s stent fiasco since February 20th, when we reported that the US Senate was launching an investigation into this matter.  The news of the congressional investigation followed lawsuits by former patients and a class action filing against the hospital.  On March 10th, we posted a story about a news release of that day in which the hospital reported an additional 169 more patients had received similar notification of unnecessary stenting by Dr. Midei, bringing the number at that time to 538.  Today’s release by the Baltimore Business Journal, as noted, adds a new 47 patients to this list.  Will more ‘review’ yield even more patients, who were, by the hospital’s own admission, subjected to implantations for blockages that “may have not been so severe to warrant a stent…”?  (What lawyer wrote that language for the hospital’s news release?).

To explain the seemingly ever-growing list of patients, the hospital stated “that an initial count of the total number of flagged stent procedures performed by Dr. Midei was “incomplete but has been corrected.

Guess it’s good that they now have the number of  patients corrected.  It would have been a lot better had they gotten the situation corrected before all these patients were submitted to unnecessary treatment with its life-long consequences.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact: Lisa Bennett, 410-951-8811 or 410-940-8590 Lisa.Bennett@murphypa.com

Senators launch fraud inquiry of St. Joseph Medical Center and conduct of Dr. Mark Midei

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland, has been the subject of recent lawsuits, news reports and a myriad of other woes.  Now the Baltimore Sun reports that its conduct will be the subject of a U.S.  Senate investigation - Senators launch fraud inquiry of Md. hospital – baltimoresun.com.

The controversy swirling around the hospital concerns the alleged placement of unnecessary cardiac  artery stents in patients at the hospital by one of its former (now terminated) cardiologists, Dr. Mark Midei.

After a lawsuit was brought in Maryland by one of Dr. Midei’s former patients, the hospital issued a statement to a local news station, WBAL:

“St. Joe’s was guided by the belief that it has a moral and ethical responsibility to inform these patients of what happened. This is consistent with our mission and core values. It was the right thing to do,” the representative said through a statement.

“Questions about potential liability remain to be resolved. SJMC takes its responsibility to patients very seriously, which is why we conducted a review and notified patients and physicians. Our focus has been and will continue to be to put patients first,” the representative continued.

In a follow-up report written today, February 20, 2010, the Baltimore Sun reports:

Federal lawmakers have asked St. Joseph Medical Center to turn over three years of billing records and other documents related to cardiac care, saying they are troubled by reports of unnecessary coronary stents implanted at the Towson hospital and want to investigate for signs of Medicare fraud.

Montana Sen. Max Baucus and Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley – the top Democrat and senior Republican, respectively, on theSenate Finance Committee – also asked the hospital for records of its financial relationship with manufacturers of the medical devices. They set a March 12 deadline, saying their committee was launching an inquiry as part of its role “to protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud and abuse.”

An internet search on this story quickly reveals that a number of law firms have gotten into the fray.  Most notably, a class action lawsuit has been filed by Billy Murphy’s law firm and the Law Offices of Peter Angelos alleging, among other claims, fraud on the part of the hospital.

In a statement given to BEMORENEWS.com, Billy Murphy said:

“This is the worst abuse of the public trust we have seen in recent memory by a hospital in which patients place their confidence in seeking care and treatment,” said William “Billy” Murphy, Esquire.

Murphy added, “It is unfortunate that an institution such as St. Joseph, which has served so many people so well for so many years, would have allowed such a practice to have occurred.”

In today’s article, The Sun reports that the hospital has pledged to fully cooperate with the Senate committee’s investigation.

“Transparency and cooperation are in the best interest of the hospital’s patients, physicians, employees and community,” they said in a statement released Friday.

Dr. Midei has been recognized for years to be one of the area’s leading cardiologists.  As Billy Murphy said in his statement, St. Joe’s has held the reputation of being one of the area’s best hospitals serving many in the community for decades.  How could it all have gone so bad?   Seems like the story is just beginning…and gets worse almost by the day.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact: Lisa Bennett, 410-951-8811 or 410-940-8590  Lisa.Bennett@murphypa.com