Unnecessary Stent Implants

Medical devices are supposed to impact a patient’s life in a positive way, helping to cure an ailment, aid in the treatment of diseases and increase the patient’s quality of life. But sometimes devices malfunction or are used incorrectly. In malpractice cases where a doctor misdiagnoses the need for a medical device or diagnoses due to oversight or for the purpose of profit, the patient’s life can be severely impacted, sometimes irreparably.

Top Maryland Hospital Faced with Controversy and Scandal

In reports filed against St. Joseph’s Medical Center based in Towson, MD, the hospital’s top cardiologist is accused of implanting stents, mesh tubes used to prop open clogged heart vessels, in patients that didn’t need them. Of all the patients who received these medical devices from the doctor, more than 370 of those patients may not have needed them at all. This fact is particularly disturbing because once the stent is implanted in the patient, it can never come out. In essence, should the device ever malfunction, the otherwise healthy patient could potentially develop health problems that would have never occurred if the stent procedure had not been performed in the first place.

Unfortunately, cases like these are not uncommon as the majority of the doctor’s patients complained of chest pain and saw the stent as a formidable option. Factors that present red flags to hospital executives for medical malpractice in Maryland include but are not limited to:

  • patient complaints;
  • low procedural volume;
  • high or unusual numbers of complications;
  • and malpractice lawsuits.

Because the doctor in the stent implant incidents never received reports of any of the above, he wasn’t reviewed as thoroughly as he should have been. However, when the doctor’s records came under scrutiny, it was alleged that he was purposely misreading patient cath reports in order to suggest performing the stent procedure. For instance, in patient reports where artery blockage was at around 10 percent, the doctor read the results at around 90 percent.

Stents are used in patients who have plaque buildup in their coronary arteries in excess of 70 percent. Not only that, the procedure itself costs a whopping $15,000. Because the procedure is extremely delicate and very expensive, the manufacture and implantation of the stent should be reserved only for those patients who actually need it to live. In the reports against the doctor at St. Joseph’s, one can only assume that the unnecessary stents were implanted in patients in order to make a profit. Because of the device’s expensive price tag and the doctor’s unusual amount of procedures involving stent implantation, a government probe has been launched by the Senate Finance Committee in order to “protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud and abuse.”

Aside from the government probe, St. Joseph’s has been the target of separate investigations involving their relationship with Mid-Atlantic Cardiovascular Associates, the hospital’s leading cardiovascular practice. The issue of healthcare fraud has plagued St. Joseph’s for the past eight years, despite its ranking by Thompson Reuters as one of the Top 100 hospitals in the nation. According to court reports, a settlement should be reached soon and the hospital is expected to face a fine upwards of $5 million or more.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Maryland

The St. Joseph Hospital stent implant controversy in Maryland is a serious issue that has left several patients in physical, emotional, and financial predicaments. The Maryland stent implant injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler understand the many challenges that victims of unnecessary stent implantation must endure. Steven H. Heisler, “The Injury Lawyer”, has years of experience handling personal injury cases relating to medical malpractice and defective medical devices under products liability law. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation of your stent implant case.