A Baltimore County jury has determined that St. Joseph Medical Center and Dr, Mark Midei, a former cardiologist who has since been stripped of his medical license, breached the accepted standards of medical care by implanting a heart stent when the plaintiff did not need one.
Following a two week trial on the liability portion of the case, the jury determined that both Midei and the hospital are liable to local businessman Glenn Weinberg for implanting unnecessary heart stents.
Midei was a former star cardiologist who now faces hundreds of medical malpractice lawsuits filed by former patients who allege that he implanted stents that were not medically necessary. In many of the cases, plaintiffs indicate that Midei told them that they were suffering severe coronary blockages that required placement of a stent, when a federal investigation led to a subsequent review of their medical records and a discovery that they only had minor blockages that did not warrant stent placement.
The case will now move into a new phase where the jury will determine the amount of damages that must be paid. Weinberg alleges that he lost millions of dollars from the unneeded stent placement, claiming that he scaled back his business for fear of worsening medical problems that he has since discovered he never had.
Stent procedures are designed to prop open arteries that are significantly blocked, and 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 considered necessary, and many former Midei patients have indicated that they were told their blockage was over that amount, when a subsequent review of records from the procedure suggested that they were well under 50%, which is generally considered “insignificant.” In some cases, patients have discovered that they received stents for blockages as low as 10%.
The discovery of the problems with unnecessary heart stents by Dr. Midei was first uncovered by a U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) investigation into Medicare fraud and claims of kickbacks between the hospital and the MidAtlantic Cardiovascular Associates (MACVA), of which Midei was a member at one time. He was kicked out of his position at the hospital shortly after the investigation got underway.
Settlement agreements have already been reached in nearly 250 lawsuits against St. Joseph and Midei, but dozens of cases remain unresolved. As a result of the unnecessary procedures, St. Joseph also reached a $22 million settlement with the DOJ in 2010.