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January 19, 2010

Lawyers trolling for St. Joseph's stent patients

Last week The Sun broke the story that St. Joseph's Medical Center in Towson had alerted hundreds of patients that they may have received artery-clearing stents they didn't need.

Already the malpractice lawyers are out in force. Saiontz & Kirk was running TV ads over the weekend and they've already got a toll-free number. 1-888-STENT-11! The usual somber-voiced voiceover guy comes on. "ATTENTION! St. Joseph's hospital stent patients. If you or a family member received a warning letter from St. Joseph's Medical Center in Towson, Md., about medical concerns regarding a stent procedure YOU have important legal rights."

Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz have a Google paid link: Improper Stent-Dr. Midei? "You've Been Wronged. We Can Help Protect Your Legal Rights!" Their Web page says: "A former cardiologist with a large, well-known Cardiovascular Group in Baltimore is under investigation for performing unneeded and unnecessary stenting procedures upon patients who did not clinically require stenting based on test results." Amazing how they know the stents were unnecessary even though the the investigation is still continuing, no evidence has been entered in court and Dr. Mark Midei, who says he expects to be exonerated, hasn't had a chance to give his side of what happened.

With so much money on the line and several lawyers vying for would-be plaintiffs' business, fundamental economic theory says that plaintiffs should be able to bargain the lawyers down from their usual 30 percent fees or whatever they are. But I've never heard of this happening. Hey plaintiffs: See if Saiontz & Kirk will take you for 15 percent.

Posted by Jay Hancock at 9:10 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Health Care
        

Comments

This is another reason why Federal health care reform should have included tort reform. As noted, the results into the investigation are not known, yet we have the plaintiffs' bar out front and center. Like your point about the contingency fee, but I doubt that they would cut it in half.

Just classic - the perfect case on why health care costs are spiraling out of control from two different perspectives and Obama's wonderful plan doesn't address either.

Just classic - the perfect case on why health care costs are spiraling out of control from two different perspectives and Obama's wonderful plan doesn't address either.

There have been ads in the Sunpaper for a couple of weeks frtom a firm called Miller,Murtha and Psoras trying to get anyone who got a letter from St Josephs !

Hi Bonnie. Thanks. I figured we had probably had stuff but only had a chance to look at the weekend papers.

New Definition from Websters... LAWYER = POND SCUM

This is the main reason that I don't support the current health care reform bill.

Everyone knows the main reason for higher health care costs in the U.S. versus other countries is mainly due to lawyers & phony malpractice cases and/or exorbitant judgements that result in ridiculous malpractice insurance costs, yet there is nothing in the current bill to control these costs because the legal industry lobby has bought off the politicians. Other countries in Europe do not have our wild and wonderful ambulance chasing legal industry or at least the ambulance chasers are under more strict control.

What's even sadder is that it doesn't matter whether Republican or Democrat.
The legal lobby has the means and will to buy off either party and has repeatedly.
Everyone keeps slamming the insurance companies and doctors and pharmaceutical companies, but the dirty little secret is there will never be successful healthcare reform without taking on the lawyers FIRST!

As for this stent case, what's glaringly missing from this story is, was anybody injured or killed as a result of this? And is there any way this procedure can harm a person in the future? It's unclear to me whether any real harm was done here other than defrauding the insurance companies. Not that that shouldn't be prosecuted, but that's a whole other matter than a phony personal injury lawsuit.

Fabby: everyone knows? Do you have ANY (non-anecdotal) numbers to back up your assertions on either the point of percentage of the national health budget or the point of relative evil in blocking reform efforts?

(I hate having to be the one to defend lawyers or torts but over broad demagoguery might even be worse)

St. Joseph is throwing this Dr. under the bus to protect itself. This is a witchhunt with no evidence of wrong doing.
Anyone with medical knowledge knows that there are several professionals in the room when it is determined that a lesion needs stenting. A half a dozen people would have to be involved in every case if their was fraud.
Dr. Midei is now forced to fight the federal government with its unlimited finances and manpower to try to protect his professional reputation and personal life.

The medical liablity is legal corruption. I've been an innocent victim repeatedly. Innocent physicians like me are tortured and defensive medicine is out of control. We're wasting billions of dollars that we can't spare. See www.MDWhistleblower.blogspot.com under Legal Quality.

The medical liablity is legal corruption. I've been an innocent victim repeatedly. Innocent physicians like me are tortured and defensive medicine is out of control. We're wasting billions of dollars that we can't spare. See www.MDWhistleblower.blogspot.com under Legal Quality.

Someone close to me was one of those stent recipients. In this case, they received one too many, at least. The averages of stents per year went way above the norm during 2008 for that hospital (St. Joseph's). That is why an investigation was held, and is ongoing. It has been determined that unneccessary stent placement was performed by one surgeon. Having to go on blood thinner unnecessarily is not a joke. Being in a hospital overnight is not cost effective, when it isn't necessary. Having an unnecessary operation that requires weeks off from work and using sick leave, etc., when it could have been used for something else that really existed. The reason costs are spiraling out of control, well, I think we all need to look at who is responsible. ... As far as other professionals being in attendance during the surgery, who knows what was or what was not shared in that room. You can be right next to a thief and not realize he had stolen anything. Not all doctors are saints, and not all average citizens are either. That's why there are lawyers. Try to litigate a case on your own and see how far you get.
As far as can this procedure harm or kill a person in the future? You betcha! The risks are there.

Well, I have 3 stents implanted in my heart from St. Joseph's by the same doctor and I for one will defend him. I knew I had some type of blockage based on my breathing and discomfort. Went to cardiologist, ekg, sonogram, and heart cath later... I was found to have almost 100 % blockage (had not calcified) in one artery, 80% in another. I was surprised since I used to run 3-7 miles per day. So it's been 5 years since my stents and had it not been for the fine doctors at St. Joe's I'm betting I would have had a severe heart attack. I would be the first one to defend them.


MrRational:

Heard back from Fabby yet (he asked rhetorically)?

No doctor would put themselves in the line of fire by intentionally implanting a stents that was unneccessary. Mark is far too smart for that. The staff in the room would never let that happen either. Not everything boils down to a damn conspiracy. Maybe the doctor with his 20 years of expierence needs a little lee-way with his intuition.

Sometimes personal injury lawyers don't do the best job in the public relations arena with how they advertise. But the facts here seem to suggest that a doctor may have improperly given patients an unnecessary stent. If this is indeed true, wouldn't you want to know what your rights were if you received this stent? Wouldn't you want someone to help you if malpractice had occurred?

The insurance company makes people think that it's personal injury lawyers who are causing sky high insurance rates but that's just not the case. Malpractice litigation expenses account for an extremely small portion (around $0.75 per doctor visit according to a recent study) of their expenses.

And I know here in Memphis my personal injury law office only accepts seriously hurt victims. We don't handle cases where there are phony and baseless claims. Our car wreck and accident victims have had life altering events happen to them. And we're here to help them get back on their feet and return to some semblance of their former lives. I would say that each and every one of our Memphis, TN personal injury clients would be much happier if they had never been involved in any accident and been hurt rather than go through the whole personal injury law process.

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About Jay Hancock
Jay Hancock has been a financial columnist for The Baltimore Sun since 2001. He has also been The Baltimore Sun's diplomatic correspondent in Washington and its chief economics writer. Before moving to Baltimore in 1994 he worked for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk and The Daily Press of Newport News.

His columns appear Tuesdays and Sundays.
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