Sunday, January 17, 2010

Patients learn they might have unneeded stents (USA)

Patients learn they might have unneeded stents (USA)St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland, USA whose cardiology business is a focus of a continuing federal health-care fraud investigation, has notified hundreds of its heart patients that they may have received expensive and potentially dangerous coronary implants they didn't need. An internal review, begun last May at the behest of federal investigators and in response to a patient complaint, has turned up 369 patients with stents that appear to have been implanted in their arteries unnecessarily, CEO Jeffrey K. Norman said. Patients began receiving letters alerting them to the finding early last month, and more notifications are expected as the review continues. "We take our interaction and the care of our patients with the utmost seriousness, and so we wanted to alert patients and their physicians to what we found," said Norman. In several cases reviewed by The Baltimore Sun, patients who received coronary stents at St. Joseph - purportedly to open a clogged artery to correct a severe blockage - have since learned they had only minor blockage, if any. Vicki Marrs, pictured, a 55-year-old patient from Conowingo, is typical. She got a stent in July 2008 after arriving at St. Joseph's with chest discomfort and being told one of her arteries was 90 percent blocked. Now doctors and lawyers who have reviewed her files say Marrs had only a 10 percent blockage at most, and that she never suffered from the kind of heart disease described by Doctor Midei 18 months ago

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