Portland cardiologist accused of implanting 100-plus unnecessary pacemakers

A Portland-area cardiologist has been accused of implanting more than 100 patients with unnecessary pacemakers, incentivized by free travel and gifts from device sales representatives, the East Oregonian reports.

Emilia Arden, 60, was named as the physician in question in a previously sealed federal whistleblower lawsuit filed by lawyer Jason T. Brown on behalf of Kathy Onwezen, a cardiology nurse practitioner who worked at the Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande with Arden. Onwezen reportedly dropped the case last month after federal officials determined the hospital had already refunded Medicare for any inappropriate reimbursements, but Brown is pursuing more answers.

“I think anybody who was seen by this doctor should be notified,” he told the East Oregonian. “If someone got an unnecessary heart operation, then from my perspective they deserve compensation."

Mardi Ford, Grand Ronde Hospital’s communications director, confirmed that Medicare was reimbursed by the hospital for potentially inappropriate surgeries, but said the findings of the hospital’s own investigation into matters are private.

The lawsuit filed by Brown alleged Arden was offered gifts including free travel by device reps to implant unnecessary pacemakers. She’s no longer employed by the hospital.

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