Catholic Health Initiatives under fire for alleged unnecessary stenting

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In 2010, weary after multiple heart treatments at St. Joseph Hospital in London, Ky., former meat cutter Edward Marshall went to see a specialist. There, he heard some disturbing news: The stent procedures performed by the hospital likely were unnecessary.

Marshall subsequently became the first of almost 400 people to sue the London hospital, cardiologists and the hospital's parent company, Catholic Health Initiatives, claiming they performed "unnecessary, risky and often painful heart procedures to unjustly enrich themselves," reported the Courier-Journal.

The suits allege two patients receiving what they termed unnecessary operations died and others are at risk. Todd Thompson, the hospital's lawyer, called the allegations a conspiracy. "These were very sick people who needed the interventions, and got them," he said.

The plaintiffs aren't the only ones with their eyes on the hospital, the Courier-Journal reports. The U.S. attorney's office in Lexington also is investigating cardiac procedures performed at the hospital, and Dr. Sandesh "Sam" Patil, the doctor who operated on Marshall, is the subject of a federal healthcare fraud investigation. Patil declined to even say he was a doctor during a deposition in Marshall's suit.

The questionable action doesn't stop there, the Courier-Journal notes. In 2011, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services cited the hospital for not reviewing the medical necessity of 3,367 cardiac catheterizations performed. Meanwhile, a University of Louisville professor, Peter Hasselbacher, found the hospital had performed more angioplasties with stents than two of Kentucky's teaching hospitals.

After the hospital came under scrutiny the number of procedures dropped by one third, which Hasselbacher told the newspaper was "the most persuasive evidence that too many cardiac catheterizations with placement of stents might have been performed."

Meanwhile, Catholic Health Initiatives is set to pay the federal government $4.9 million to resolve allegations that one of its hospitals overbilled Medicare and Medicaid for unnecessary hospital admissions. The unnecessary admissions, which were billed federally and lasted one or two days from 2007 to 2009, were found in a routine audit.

To learn more:
- read the Courier-Journal report

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