KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Report: Baltimore Cardiologist Inserted ‘Medically Unnecessary’ Stents

The Baltimore Sun: Federal Report On Stent Procedures Finds Potential Fraud
[A federal report being released today outlines how] Abbott Laboratories, a $30 billion-a-year, Chicago-based pharmaceutical firm, ranked [Dr. Mark] Midei among its top-volume doctors in the Northeast and made plying him with research money and 'VIP trips' part of its business plan in late 2008 - about the time Midei's usage of Abbott-brand stents soared, the report said. The 170-page document contains the findings of a months-long investigation by the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance into allegations of inappropriate and potentially harmful cardiac procedures performed by Midei at St. Joseph Medical Center (Bishop, 12/6).

The New York Times: Doctor Faces Suits Over Cardiac Stents
Word quickly reached top executives at Abbott Laboratories that a Baltimore cardiologist, Dr. Mark Midei, had inserted 30 of the company's cardiac stents in a single day in August 2008, 'which is the biggest day I remember hearing about,' an executive wrote in a celebratory e-mail ... The case has turned into a legal quagmire for Dr. Midei and St. Joseph, which have been sued by hundreds of patients who claim they received unnecessary implants. Some doctors say the case has revealed a level of inappropriate care that is more common than most patients know.  (Harris, 12/5).

The Wall Street Journal: Abbott Hired Barred Doctor
Abbott Laboratories hired a Baltimore-area cardiologist as a sales consultant after he was barred from practicing at a local hospital last year for allegedly putting heart stents in hundreds of patients who didn't need them, say Senate investigators probing the medical-device industry (Mundy and Burton, 12/6).

The Baltimore Sun, in a separate story: New Law Would Disclose Doc Pay By Abbott, Others
Starting in 2013 you won't need a Senate investigation to learn of these deals [regarding improper payments to doctors]. The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, part of the health-care reform legislation, requires pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers to disclose payments to docs to the government, which will make them public (Hancock, 12/6).

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