Saint Joseph-London Hospital in Kentucky faces a number of lawsuits by nearly 300 patients who allege that they underwent unnecessary heart surgery.
The complaints accuse doctors at the hospital of installing unneeded pacemakers and coronary heart stents in order to increase profits, claiming that doctors misrepresented their heart conditions to convince plaintiffs to consent to extreme and expensive surgical procedures that they allegedly could have done without.
The defendants include the hospital, nearly a dozen doctors, seven different medical practices, the parent company, Catholic Health Initiatives and a management company. The medical providers allegedly received kickbacks and bonuses from the hospital and manufacturers of products used during the procedures.
A number of similar lawsuits were filed against the hospital last year, and the claims are currently under investigation by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure.
Saint Joseph-London Hospital was investigated in February 2011 by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Office of Inspector General, which found that it failed to properly review whether heart catheterizations being performed were necessary. However, it is not currently investigating the most recent claims.
Catholic Health Initiatives is the same company that owned St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland, where more than 600 patients of Dr. Mark G. Midei were warned in 2009 that they may have received unnecessary heart stents. Like in the Kentucky claims, Dr. Midei reportedly told patients that their heart conditions were far more severe than they really were.
In many of the cases, Midei told patients they had severe coronary blockages, when in reality they only had minor blockages that did not require a stent placement.
Stent procedures, which are designed to prop open arteries that are significantly blocked, can cost $10,000 or more. Typically it is necessary for there to be at least a 70% artery blockage for a stent implant to be necessary.