To add to the ongoing drama circulating around the St. Joseph Medical Center (SJMC) in Towson, Md., Maryland attorneys last week filed a class action lawsuit against the facility after 369 patients received notifications saying that they may have received unwarranted cardiac stents.
SJMC released a statement, noting it has been "contacting former patients of its cardiac catheterization laboratory who may have received stents that were not supported by their catheterization film.”
The 354-bed facility has been under investigation since 2008 when the Office of Inspector General asked the facility to turn over all patient records in association with its contracted 53-doctor cardiology group, MidAtlantic Cardiovascular Associates.
The lawsuit, filed in Baltimore by Murphy PA and The Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos, PC, claimed that Mark Midei, MD, director of the cath lab at SJMC, “performed hundreds, if not thousands, of unnecessary cardiac stent procedures on patients as revealed by a federal investigation.”
Murphy contended that Midei misled patients and committed fraud by telling them that a stent procedure was necessary to open up coronary arteries that were more than 80 percent blocked, when in fact these patients only had minor blockages of 10 to 20 percent.
“Since first becoming aware of these issues involving a single physician, SJMC has taken aggressive action to correct the problem, including providing information to the patients who are potentially affected,” according to the provider.
In addition, hospital spokespersons said, “Based on medical review, the hospital does not believe that patients who were treated and received a stent that was not supported by their catheterization film are at immediate risk.”
According to the suit documents, attorneys have asked for an injunction that would:
- Stop the hospital from performing any further cardiac catheterization procedures without a third party peer review unless there is immenent need;
- Require the hospital to provide full medical insurance coverage to all patients who lost health insurance coverage due to the unnecessary cardiac catheterization procedures; and
- Require the facility to pay the costs associated with the review of the plaintiffs’ catheterization procedures.
According to medical center, Midei has been terminated from employment and is “neither seeing nor treating any patients at SJMC.”
As of last Thursday, the facility said that they had not seen any suit documents and said that they would not comment on the particulars until they do.
"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 attorney William Murphy.
The facility also said: “In light of this discovery, the hospital has met and will continue to meet its regulatory reporting obligations under both state and federal laws including the Maryland Board of Physicians, the National Practitioner Data Bank and the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality.”