According to the New York Times, some Florida hospitals owned by HCA Holdings Inc. performed cardiac catheterization and stent placements in patients who did not need them. It has been reported that several cardiologists at Lawnwood Medical Center, Regional Medical Bayonet Point and other HCA-owned hospitals in Florida performed these procedures without justification as a way to increase hospital profits. This practice has reportedly contributed significantly to HCA’s bottom line over the past several years, while otherwise healthy patients have been subjected to unnecessary and potentially dangerous procedures.
Which Hospitals Have Been Affected?
The New York Times has made specific allegations against Lawnwood Medical Center, Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point and Cedars Medical Center, which is no longer owned by HCA. It further reported that additional investigations by HCA uncovered some unnecessary cardiac procedures at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami and Palms West Hospital near West Palm Beach. The Times has reported that these practices were not limited to “a rogue doctor or two” and our attorneys believe that this practice is widespread. Currently, we are looking to hear from any patient who received cardiac work at a HCA hospital in Florida to determine whether they actually needed their procedure. Even if you are unsure whether your hospital is owned by HCA, feel free to contact us today by completing our form on the right.
HCA Knew About the Unnecessary Cardiac Work
In one of its most egregious moves, HCA knew that some cardiologists in several of its facilities were performing these procedures without justification, according to the New York Times. The article reported that the largest for-profit hospital chain in the country uncovered evidence as far back as 2002 and as recently as 2010 revealing the problem of unnecessary cardiac work and failed to report this to patients or medical authorities. Internal reports revealed that for some patients, doctors made misleading statements in their medical records to make it seem as if the procedures they were performing were actually necessary.
This practice has reportedly contributed significantly to HCA’s bottom line over the past several years, while otherwise healthy patients have been subjected to unnecessary and potentially dangerous procedures.
Lawnwood Under Fire for Over-Stenting
One nurse made shocking claims against Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, telling the Times that he saw a doctor insert a stent in patient who showed no artery blockage. When the nurse questioned the placement of the stent, the doctor asked if he did not see the 90% artery blockage and looked to other employees in the operating room, according to Times article. The nurse claims that the others “shrugged” and the doctor inserted the stent. A 2010 review of Lawnwood Medical Center concluded that around half of the procedures (around 1,200) were done on patients unnecessarily, according to the article.
Guidelines for Cardiac Catheterization, Stent Use
According to national treatment guidelines, cardiac catheterization and stent placement is generally not recommended in patients whose arteries are less than 70% blocked, as other methods of treatment can be explored. It has been reported, however, that some cardiologists employed at HCA hospitals are performing these procedures in patients with significantly less artery blockages and those without heart disease. In a confidential memo reviewed by the Times, an external company examined medical records from Bayonet Point and found that 43% of 355 angioplasty cases were “outside reasonable and expected medical practice.” Even worse, the Times reported that these doctors recorded that the patients suffered from 80% to 90% blockages in their arteries, even though a further review revealed that blockages were more in the range of 33% to 53%.
The Risks of Over-Stenting
When a patient receives unnecessary cardiac work, they are needlessly put at risk for the serious complications associated with these procedures. Research suggests that a patient’s risk of suffering from complications after a stenting procedure could be as high as nearly 6%, with just over a 2% death rate. During the angioplasty, patients are also put at risk for stroke, heart attack or coronary artery damage, which may require an emergency bypass surgery. Following the procedure, patients face long-term complications, including the risk of blood clots, which can cause heart attack or other serious injuries. Furthermore, many patients who undergo a stent procedure need to take a blood thinner for the following year, and potentially indefinitely.
How Can You Tell If My Cardiac Work Was Unnecessary?
If you suspect you received an unnecessary cardiac procedure, the attorneys at our firm will obtain your medical records and angiograms and work alongside experienced, board-certified cardiologists to determine whether the treatment you received was necessary. If the doctor suspects that your arteries were not clogged enough to require these procedures, we can explain your options for legal action, which may include filing a claim for compensation against the doctor and/or hospital.
Potential Lawsuits Under Investigation
Our attorneys investigated the overuse of coronary stents across the country and are looking to hear from anyone who believes they underwent surgery unnecessarily. Currently, we are not seeking claims for this class action case.