Settlement Reached for St. Joseph Heart Stent Lawsuits in Maryland

A group of about 250 former patients of a Maryland cardiologist accused of implanting unnecessary heart stents have reached a settlement agreement with St. Joseph Hospital in Baltimore County, resolving lawsuits that allege they underwent heart surgery that they did not actually need.  

Dr. Mark Midei, St. Joseph Medical Center, and Catholic Health Initiative announced the agreement in Baltimore County Circuit Court on Thursday, although details of the settlement have not been disclosed.

Midei and the hospital still face dozens of additional lawsuits over unnecessary stents, which allege that the doctor told them that they required coronary heart stents for blockages that did not justify such treatment, exposing them to a risk of health complications associated with coronary stents.

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In late 2009 and early 2010, St. Joseph Medical Center sent letters to more than 600 former patients of Dr. Mark Midei, informing them that a review of their medical records demonstrated that they may have received a stent that was unnecessary.

Midei was stripped of his license to practice medicine in Maryland, fired from the hospital and has faced hundreds of lawsuits over unnecessary stents. The then-owners of the hospital, Catholic Health Initiatives, suffered lost revenue, mounting legal fees and other problems resulting from the scandal, and the hospital was ultimately sold to University of Maryland.

Stent procedures, which are designed to prop open arteries that are significantly blocked, can cost $10,000 or more. Typically, a patient must have 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%.

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.

St. Joseph agreed to a $22 million settlement to address criminal charges from the U.S. Justice Department in November 2010. Midei, who maintains his innocence sued the hospital and its former owner for defamation of character. That claim has not yet been resolved.

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