MASSDEVICE ON CALL — A Pennsylvania hospital group associated with more than 140 cases of unnecessary stenting and angioplasties repaid almost $2 million in Medicare reimbursements to the federal government.
The Excela Health network reached an agreement with federal regulators to return the funds, which were collected for heart surgeries performed between 2009 and 2011, according to settlement documents made public this month.
Cardiologists Dr. George BouSamra and Dr. Ehab Morcos, formerly of Excela’s Westmoreland Country Cardiology center, performed the inappropriate procedures, according to official reports. Both physicians have filed defamation suits, Trib Live News reported.
Excela had hired experts to investigate BouSamra and Morcos’ procedures when clinic officials became concerned that the patients receiving stents and angioplasties didn’t have sufficient plaque buildup to merit intervention, according to the Trib Live News.
"We value transparency as an institution. We were aware of the situation, we investigated, we self-reported, and Excela believes that was an important factor in resolving the issue," Excela CEO Robert Rogalski told reporters. "Since our disclosure, Excela’s quality improvements have resulted in a national accreditation of our cardiac catheterization laboratory, which we were the first in the state to receive."
Excela isn’t the only health system under fire for excess stenting. Just over a year ago a Maryland hospital, Peninsula Regional, paid $1.8 million to settle allegations that senior leadership failed to properly address complaints of unnecessary stenting.
Dr. Mark Midei, a cardiologist at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Md., was accused of implanting unnecessary stents in as many as 369 patients. St. Joseph Medical Center agreed to pay $22 million to the federal government to settle a whistle-blower lawsuit accusing it of bilking Medicare for the unnecessary coronary stent implantations.
In June 2011 a whistle-blower called out a Tennessee doc and 2 hospitals for allegations of unnecessary stenting and accused hospital leadership of attacking physicians who tried to oppose the scheme by giving them bad-faith peer reviews leading to their elimination from the medical staff.
Mobile app detects irregular heart rate
Massachusetts researchers developed a heart-rate monitoring application that can run on an iPhone and detect an irregular pulse that might be a sign of atrial fibrillation.
Moximed launches knee spring study
Hayward, Calif.-based Moximed launches a U.S. clinical trial of its KineSpring system, an implantable medical spring that helps reduce pressure on a diseased knee joint.
Progress toward robot-assisted kidney surgery
A new technique could increase the effectiveness of kidney cancer surgery by involving a minimally invasive robot-assisted procedure that spares the kidney and eliminates long hospital stays.