The Wall Street Journal (12/6, Mundy, Burton) reports a Senate investigation of the medical-device industry revealed that Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories hired as a sales advisor Mark Midei, a cardiologist who was banned from a Baltimore hospital for implanting hundreds of heart stents in patients who did not need them. The Monday report is said to highlight one of the health industry’s most profitable procedures.
The Baltimore Sun (12/6, Bishop) reports Abbott “ranked Midei among its top-volume doctors in the Northeast and made plying him with research money and ‘VIP trips’ part of its business plan in late 2008 — about the time Midei’s usage of Abbott-brand stents soared, the report said.” The “170-page document contains the findings of a months-long investigation by the US Senate Committee on Finance into allegations of inappropriate and potentially harmful cardiac procedures performed by Midei at St. Joseph Medical Center.” The report “calls the case ‘a clear example of potential fraud, waste and abuse,’ noting that St. Joseph billed government and private insurers more than $6.6 million for the procedures.”
“Inappropriate” level of care more prevalent than most realize. The New York Times (12/5, Harris) added, “The Senate Finance Committee, which oversees Medicare, started investigating Dr. [Mark] Midei in February after a series of articles in The Baltimore Sun said that Dr. Midei at St. Joseph Medical Center, in Towson, Md., had inserted stents in patients who did not need them, reaping high reimbursements from Medicare and private insurance.” According to the report, Midei “‘may have implanted 585 stents which were medically unnecessary’ from 2007 to 2009. Medicare paid $3.8 million of the $6.6 million charged for those procedures.” The Times adds, “Prosecutors, malpractice lawyers and state medical boards are only now waking up to the issue” but notes “the case has turned into a legal quagmire for Dr. Midei and St. Joseph, which have been sued by hundreds of patients who claim they received unnecessary implants. Some doctors say the case has revealed a level of inappropriate care that is more common than most patients know.”
From the American Association for Justice news release.