Malpractice Lawsuits in Maryland Allege Doctor Implanted Unneeded Stents

More than 100 former patients of Dr. Mark Midei, who allege that they received an unnecessary coronary heart stent at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland, have started the process necessary to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital after the parties were unable to reach an agreement to settle the claims.

The St. Joseph heart stent lawsuits were filed with the state’s health claims arbitration office, which is a step that must be taken before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland. The complaints allege that Dr. Midei, who was employed by the hospital, performed hundreds of heart stent procedures that were medically unnecessary.

Over the past year, St. Joseph Medical Center has sent more than 600 letters to former patients of Dr. Midei, alerting them that a subsequent review of their medical procedure indicates that they may have been implanted with a coronary heart stent they did not need. In many of the cases, Dr. Midei told patients that they had severe coronary blockages, when in reality they only had minor blockages that did not require a stent placement.

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The stent surgery problems at St. Joseph Medical Center were uncovered as part of an on-going federal investigation of Medicare fraud and other health law violations involving the financial relationship between the hospital and an affiliated group of cardiologists. While St. Joseph hospital initially denied that any patient care was impacted, they are no longer making such statements, and have since reviewed all procedures performed by Dr. Midei between May 2007 and 2009.

Dr. Midei, who led the hospital’s cardiac catheterization unit, has denied any wrongdoing. The hospital stripped him of his position at the hospital last summer without explanation, and at least three other executives have left their jobs amid the investigation.

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, and many patients who have received these letters were originally told that they had blockages over that amount. However, after a subsequent review of records from the procedure, many of the patients were found to have blockages that were well under 50%, which is generally considered “insignificant.” Some patients who received stents had blockages as low as 10%.

Maryland law requires the medical malpractice claims to be filed in arbitration before being filed in court. The complaints filed on Tuesday came after negotiations between the plaintiffs and the hospital failed. The filings are expected to be just a small portion of the St. Joseph stent lawsuits that will be filed by former patients of Dr. Midei.

St. Joseph already faces a stent surgery class action lawsuit seeking to force the hospital to pay for a review of patient records and to impose certain requirements on the hospital before they can perform stent procedures.

Maryland malpractice lawyers are also investigating similar stent lawsuits against Union Memorial Hospital, which is located in Baltimore City. In July, an investigative report by the Baltimore Sun uncovered data that suggests some doctors at Union Memorial Hospital may have also decided to implant stents at a rate that greatly exceeds the state’s average.


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