The Maryland doctor who allegedly implanted hundreds of cardiac patients with unnecessary stents has claimed he is innocent in an editorial published in the Baltimore Sun.
Dr. Mark Midei, a cardiologist at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Md., wrote that his "decisions as a doctor have been motivated by one thing only: The well-being of my patients."
The hospital and Midei were slapped with a class-action lawsuit two weeks after the hospital notified patients about the possibly unneeded procedures in January 2010. A Towson attorney later filed 101 complaints against the two alleging conspiracy, negligence and fraud.
In November 2010, St. Joseph agreed to pay $22 million to the federal government to settle a whistleblower lawsuit over the implantations, without admitting any guilt.
The lawsuit was filed by a trio of cardiac surgeons who alleged that the hospital and an independent practice, MidAtlantic Cardiovascular Associates, ran a 10-year scheme to drive referrals from St. Joseph to MACVA.
Midei claimed in the editorial that the hospital attempted to foist the blaim of the unnecessary stents on him and said the timing of the accusations raises questions over whether the hospital itself was guilty of the fraudulent medical practice.
"These charges, which originated from someone within the hospital community, conveniently surfaced as St. Joseph Medical Center and its Denver-based owner Catholic Health Initiatives was entangled in a federal investigation of misconduct between them and [MACVA]. As my troubles became front-page news, St. Joseph Medical Center moved to the back page," he wrote.
The allegations against the doctors picked up steam in December when emails showing approval and encouragement of high treatment volume of stents from executives at Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) surfaced. A Senate Committee on Finance report that revealed the emails also said the stent maker provided financial benefits and gifts to Midei.
But Midei wrote that he did not receive "personal enrichment" from manufacturers during his practice of clinical medicine and said "even small honoraria were donated to hospitals or foundations."
Midei added that commentary on his story that portrayed it as indicative of the "perils of the fee-for-service medical system" were ironic.
"I have never been compensated based on productivity," he wrote, and said all members of MACVA and St. Joseph Medical Center were compensated equally.
In another case involving "unnecessary stents" at a Greenburg, Pa. hospital, two cardiologists last week stepped down on charges similar to Midei’s.
The case involves an admission by the hospital’s chief medical officer that at least six of 141 Westmoreland Hospital patients sent letters telling them they may have received "unnecessary stents" in fact never got stents in the first place. Instead, the hospital later said, these six patients underwent angioplasty procedures that appeared, on review, to not have been medically warranted, although no stents were placed, HeartWire reported.