Debate surrounds elective angioplasties

Elective angioplasties are a lucrative service that hospitals can offer to add money to their bottom line. In Wisconsin, however, two cardiologists at Sheboygan's Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center have very different views on how and where these procedures should be conducted. Tanvir Bajwa, a cardiologist at the hospital, performs the elective angioplasties--angioplasties carried out when a patient isn't having a heart attack. But his colleague Aamer Shabbir stopped conducting the procedure after he learned of the angioplasty practice guidelines set out by the AMA, the American College of Cardiology and the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Intervention. These groups say that hospitals must have an on-site cardiac surgery unit and perform more than 400 angioplasties a year; Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center is a small hospital that meets neither of these requirements.

Tanvir Bajwa disputes the guidelines, claiming that groups drafted them in order to keep the lucrative angioplasty business with cardiologist groups in larger hospitals. These groups stand to lose business if smaller hospitals like Aurora perform the procedure. In addition, Bajwa points to the fact that has performed over 300 angioplasties without problems.

For more on the angioplasty debate:
- read this article from the Clarion Ledger