As Published By
ALAN S. RIPKA, ESQUIRE
Stents Can Be Unneccesary!

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the Baltimore-area St. Joseph Medical Center that recently informed more than 350 patients that they may have received unnecessary heart stents. St. Joseph is regarded as one of the primary cardiac care facilities in the region. It is alleged that Dr.Mark Midei, who is no longer employed by or affiliated with St. Joseph, performed these unnecessary stents out of greed, and misled patients into having surgeries that they did not need. The procedure costs around $10,000.

Most clinical guidelines, including the American College of Cardiology and reimbursement rules for Medicare and private insurance, set minimum thresholds for the procedure, often requiring at least 70 percent blockage of an artery before a stent should be placed. St. Joseph’s guidelines regard blockage of 50 percent or less to be “insignificant.” In several cases, patients were told they had up to 95% blockage in their arteries, and later found out through subsequent reviews that the blockage was closer to 10%.

Stents are tiny mesh tubes that are inserted at the site of a blockage in a coronary artery that has been opened during balloon angioplasty. The procedure seeks to prevent the artery from becoming blocked again. Stents can strengthen clogged or weak arteries and can save someone during a heart attack.

Since stents are foreign objects, placement of stents in the body causes immune responses, such as clots or scarring. Stenting procedures also put the recipient at greater risk for: blood clots, which can lead to heart attack; bleeding and hemorrhaging; arrhythmias; bleeding at the insertion site; heart attack; stroke; infection at the insertion site; kidney failure; ruptured artery (dissection). After surgery, some patients experience re-growth of blockage in the artery, requiring subsequent invasive procedures.

This is not the first time that doctors have been under fire for stent fraud. In 2007, Dr. John R. McLean at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury made headlines when he was accused of performing unnecessary stent procedures on at least 25 patients who were well outside of the guidelines. Last year, Dr. Mehmood Patel, a Lafayette, Louisiana interventional cardiologist, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on health-care fraud charges for performing medically unnecessary coronary procedures, including placing unnecessary coronary stents and then billing Medicare and private insurance companies. Two hospitals where he worked paid a combined $5.7 million penalty to the federal government, and one paid an additional $7.4 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by the doctor’s patients.

If you or any of your loved ones feel that you may have been subject to unnecessary coronary procedures, such as a stent placement, call Alan Ripka to discuss your claim. Alan Ripka and his professional team of lawyers can evaluate your situation and determine the next steps to gain justice for you and your family. Alan Ripka has fought against all kinds of companies in other matters and will fight for you if we believe you have a potential case for medical malpractice, products liability, or personal injury. They are prepared to go to court and have a trial if necessary. Please fill out the form and submit or call and ask for me, Alan Ripka. Please specifically mention that you read the blog when contacting me.

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