Fraud Investigation Launched Against St. Joseph Medical Center in Maryland
St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland, is now the target of a Senate probe into health care fraud and abuses following allegations that a doctor there performed hundreds of unnecessary stent procedures.
Senators Max Baucus and Charles Grassley, who head the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, have demanded that St. Joseph turn over three years of records related to coronary stent implant operations performed by Dr. Mark Midei. Federal investigators say Midei lied to patients about the severity of coronary blockages, convincing them to undergo unnecessary and dangerous coronary stent implant operations. The senators say they are looking for signs of Medicare fraud or other ways the hospital may have profited from Dr. Midei’s activities.
At the end of December, St. Joseph sent letters to 369 patients notifying them that a subsequent clinical review of their procedure found that they did not need the heart stent implanted by Dr. Midei. The problem was discovered after a patient complained, sparking a probe into Dr. Midei’s actions. When St. Joseph called in other coronary experts to examine the patients’ catheterization films, hundreds of discrepancies were discovered.
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Cardiac catheterization procedures with stent placement, which cost about $10,000.00, are designed to keep open significantly blocked arteries. Typically it is only considered necessary for a stent to be implanted when an artery is at least 70% blocked, with anything under 50% considered “insignificant” and treatable without a stent. Some patients were exposed to the risks associated with stent placement by Dr. Midei when they had blockages as low as 10%.
Dr. Mark Midei headed up the cardiac catheterization unit at St. Joseph until he was stripped of his position and privileges at the hospital last summer amid a federal investigation involving cardiac stent procedures performed at the Towson, Maryland hospital.
According to a report by the Baltimore Sun, Baucus and Grassley have given the hospital until March 12 to turn over records covering stent implant procedures at the hospital over the last three years. The senators say they are protecting taxpayers from waste, fraud and abuse, and are looking to see if there are any signs that the hospital was purposefully defrauding the federal government by charging for heart surgeries that it knew was bogus.
The hospital has indicated they will cooperate fully with the investigation.
The probe comes as a number of St. Joseph stent lawsuits have been filed against the Maryland hospital. In late January, a class action lawsuit was filed against St. Joseph, seeking to force the hospital to pay for a review of patient records and impose certain requirements before the hospital can perform stent operations. However, many lawyers pursuing St. Joseph lawsuits indicate that individuals treated by Dr. Midei may be in a better position to investigate their claim and obtain more complete compensation for their damages by pursuing an individual claim.
thomasApril 17, 2010 at 3:13 am
THE VIVE PRESIDENT OF MEDICAL AFFAIRS WAS AWARE OF IT AND WAS SUBSEQUENTLYFIRED
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