101 patients sue hospital, doctor for unwarranted stents

More than 100 lawsuits were filed Tuesday against Towson, Md.-based St. Joseph Medical Center and its former star cardiologist, Dr. Mark Midei, for alleged conspiracy, negligence and fraud. Midei was accused of implanting hundreds of unnecessary cardiac stents, the Baltimore Sun reports.

This first stack of claims could just be the beginning of a wave of legal actions targeting doctors and hospitals for unnecessary procedures.

Malpractice lawyers already are circling, looking for new business. If you visit the Sun article, you'll see two Google ads within the body of the article. One link says "St. Joseph Medical Center." The other: "St Joseph Stent Lawyers " and says "reviewing cases for unneeded stent implants."

The stack of claims filed in the state arbitration office yesterday was apparently a foot high. Attorney Jay Miller's 101 clients had stents implanted to ostensibly clear blocked arteries, although even the hospital's own investigation revealed that the blockages did not warrant stenting, according to WJZ.

The filings were made after settlement talks between the hospital and medical malpractice attorney broke down. "I can't get them to even consider paying what's reasonable," Miller told WJZ.

Patients have accused Midei, who earned $1.3 million from St. Joseph in FY 2009, of lying on medical records to create the impression that patients had clogged arteries, then inserted stents into healthy veins. Midei has denied the allegations.

Midei lost his privileges at St. Joseph last year. After the hospital launched a probe of two years of hospital records, among heart doctors, only Midei was linked to unnecessary medical procedures. The hospital sent 600 of his patients letters saying their stents may have been uncalled for.

The allegations surrounding unnecessary stenting have spurred interest by Maryland health regulators to make peer review practices more stringent, including volume and necessity of medical services.

To learn more:
- read the WJZ article
- here's the Baltimore Sun article

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