PA Doctors Investigated For Implanting Unnecessary Coronary Stents

Two Pennsylvania doctors are under investigation due to suspicions that may have implanted coronary stents in patients who did not need them. 

Drs. Ehab Morcos and George Bousamra resigned from Westmoreland Hospital in January following a determination by other cardiologists that they had implanted at least 141 stents that were probably not needed.

The two physicians performed 753 stent procedures in 2010, and all of those procedures are currently under review. A final determination on how many stents were actually needed and how many were not is expected in May.

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The two doctors have begun work at Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville, but that hospital says that it plans a thorough review of the two doctors before they are taken off of temporary privileges and granted full physician status at the hospital, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The review is standard procedure, but is likely to be complicated and tied to what’s found by the Westmoreland investigation.

The situation is similar to an ongoing coronary heart stent scandal involving unnecessary procedures at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland, which removed Dr. Mark Midei after an investigation revealed that he may have implanted nearly 600 unneeded stents in patients from 2007 through mid-2009. The stent controversy has resulted in a closer scrutiny at stent implant procedures and policies nationwide.

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. But investigations at St. Joseph, Westmoreland and other hospitals are finding that some patients are being told they require coronary stent implants for blockages that are much less than 70% and in some cases so small as to be considered insignificant.

A number of individuals who received an unnecessary procedure at the Maryland hospital are pursuing a stent lawsuits against St. Joseph Medical Center. The complaints seek compensation from the hospital for damages associated with the unnecessary medical procedures and for problems associated with having a stent that never should have been implanted.

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