STSW Lawyers Are Investigating Cases of Unnecessary Cardiac Stent Surgery By Dr. Mark Midei at St. Joseph Medical Center

As has been recently published in newspapers and reported on by the various news agencies, it has been alleged that hundreds and hundreds of unnecessary cardiac stent surgeries were performed by Dr. Mark Midei at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland. These allegations are giving rise to medical malpractice claims by the recipients of the stent implants that are alleged not to have been needed in the first place. Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White’s attorneys are actively investigating and pursuing these claims. To date, there have been seven articles about this fiasco in the Baltimore Sun, consisting of the following:

1/15/10 Patients learn they might have unneeded stents.

1/22/10 Heart-stent popularity is costly in many ways.

1/23/10 Suit alleges heart implant unnecessary.

1/28/10 Lawyers see profits in stent cases.

1/29/10 Lawyers look for clients in cases of possibly unneeded stents.

2/20/10 Senators launch fraud inquiry of Md. hospital.

2/21/10 St. Joseph acts to put stent crisis behind it.

Beginning in early December 2009, a number of former St. Joseph’s patients, and specifically, patients of Dr. Mark Midei, received letters about their prior cardiac catheterization procedure(s) with stent placement. These letters acknowledge that subsequent clinical reviews of the cardiac catheterization procedure found different results than are indicated in the original cardiac catheterization report. In short, for those individuals, St. Joseph’s is essentially saying that the stent placement they received may not have been necessary and may, unfortunately, expose these patients to significant current and future health risks. Essentially, prior to undergoing the catheterization procedure, these patients were told by Dr. Midei that they had blockages of various arteries as high as 80%-95% that required a stent placement. Subsequent reviews, however, have discovered that these patients, in fact, only had minor blockages, sometimes as low as 10%. Typical guidelines call for a blockage of at least 70% for a stent procedure, with blockages below 50% generally being regarded as not clinically significant; i.e., not requiring a stent. Dr. Midei has recently stopped practicing and lost his privileges at St. Joseph.

Initially, the number of patients receiving these letters was reported to be 369. It is our lawyers’ understanding, however, that a second and perhaps third round of letters has gone out to additional patients of Dr. Midei in the last several weeks. In fact, we are aware of some patients who received letters as recently as February 24th. In our lawyers’ personal opinions, by the time St. Joseph’s review all of the cases, the number of unnecessary stent cases will be in the thousands. Our lawyers have been told that St. Joseph has a group of five leading cardiology experts reviewing Dr. Midei’s cardiac stent procedures during a certain time frame, and if all five doctors agree that the cardiac catheterization study was misread, and therefore, the stent was unnecessary, that patient receives a letter. But what about the people who had stents placed by Dr. Midei who did not receive such a letter? Could they have cases? The answer is yes. It is our lawyers’ understanding that St. Joseph’s cardiology experts are only looking at a certain time frame and it takes five doctors to agree on the misread. Therefore, if you are outside of the time frame that the St. Joseph doctors are looking at, or if only four out of the five doctors agree that you did not need the stent, you will not get a letter. In fact, STSW has clients who did not receive letters, but whose studies were misread and who, therefore, did not need stents.

The stent procedure itself is fairly common in the United States today. Like all other types of surgery, however, it has risk factors such as complications from the surgery itself, development of infection, blood clots, and heart attacks. In addition, there is the obvious pain and discomfort associated with the surgery, loss of wages stemming from missed work, and unnecessary medical expenses. In addition, a stent presents patients with an increased risk of blood clots, strokes and heart attack. Patients who receive stents generally require a blood thinner medication that they must take for the rest of their lives, a medication which also carries with it a unique set of risks and potential for complication.

Our lawyers recently took a case that is illustrative of these cases and the damages/injuries incurred. In this case, the client had chest pain about five years ago and went to the St. Joseph Medical Center emergency room where all of his tests were normal. He underwent a catheterization the next day by Dr. Midei and was told he had blockages that required two stents. The St. Joseph Medical Center cardiac catheterization report of that procedure, which was signed by Dr. Midei, states that one of his cardiac arteries was 80% narrowed, for which a stent was put in. A leading cardiac catheterization expert has reviewed the images of that study and informed our lawyers that the artery which Dr. Midei claimed was 80% narrowed actually was only 30% narrowed, and did not require a stent. Dr. Midei also claimed in the report that another of the patient’s cardiac arteries was 90% narrowed, and needed a stent. According to our expert, that second artery was only 50% narrowed, and did not require a stent. In other words, the Dr. Midei lied to this patient, leading him to believe that a stent procedure was necessary when in fact he simply should have been treated with medication. For the past six years, this patient has had a diagnosis of major heart disease when in reality he has no such thing. He must take a blood thinning medication daily for the rest of his life, which requires him to avoid certain food, undergo regular blood testing and increases his susceptibility for hemorrhage if he falls or is injured. Interestingly, this patient has yet to receive a letter from St. Joseph.

A word of caution. Many of you will continue to see many newspaper and television advertisements by lawyers seeking to collect clients for medical malpractice cases against St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson and Dr. Mark Midei for implanting cardiac stents that may not have been necessary. We understand that one of these law firms, which only has a small number of attorneys who regularly handle medical malpractice cases, has collected more than 100 cases. Another one of these law firms has even filed a class action (since each person’s case is substantially different, it is unlikely that a class action will be upheld in our opinion). Still yet another law firm is advertising for cases that it is not even handling; it is simply passing these cases off to medical malpractice lawyers who ultimately will handle the cases, in the hopes of generating a large amount of attorneys’ fees without having to do the work to resolve the case successfully (sharing attorneys fees with a referring attorney is legal, but advertising for cases you don’t handle is misleading). Sadly, because these small firms will be unable to devote sufficient and proper attention to each case, they will have a very strong incentive to lump a large number of cases together and seek a global resolution (without having to go to trial), without regard for each individual’s true measure of damages. Such a result will benefit those kinds of firms, but likely will not be in the best interest of many of their clients.

At STSW, our medical malpractice team handles only a select number of cases a year. Each case we take is handled on an individual basis. That means that our attorneys are personally in charge of each case we handle from start to finish. When a client calls, they speak with an attorney, not a paralegal. We treat every client the way that we would want to be treated if we have a case. This is why we are successful in almost every case we pursue. Not surprisingly, we believe that people who have been victimized by Dr. Midei and St. Joseph Medical Center are best served by STSW lawyers who focus on the individual case and person as opposed to those lawyers who are advertising in the newspaper, on television and the radio, simply trying to grab as many cases as they can. As experienced Baltimore, Maryland lawyers who specialize in medical malpractice, our attorneys have handled numerous medical negligence cases involving cardiac issues. The cases against St. Joseph and/or Dr. Midei are perfect examples of medical malpractice. These people deserve compensation. In fact, in addition to medical negligence cases, these individuals may also have been the victims of fraud.

If you, a loved one or a friend has received a cardiac stent by Dr. Midei at St. Joseph, you may have important legal rights, regardless of whether you received a letter from St. Joseph. It is important to protect yourself and your family by requesting a free and confidential consultation with one of our lawyers. Our lawyers will be able to ascertain if you have a claim for which a lawsuit can be pursued for your damages and/or injuries. Our lawyers represent individuals on a contingency fee basis, which means that there are no fees or expenses unless a recovery is obtained.