Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cardiology Greed

This is embarrassing.  A hospital in Eyria, Ohio just settled a federal lawsuit for almost $4 million in response to allegations of hospital cardiologists performing unnecessary coronary angioplasties and stent procedures.
The high rate of heart procedures at the hospital was the subject of a front-page article in The New York Times in August 2006. Medicare patients in Elyria, Ohio, where the hospital is located, were receiving angioplasties at a rate nearly four times the national average, a figure that prompted questions from insurers and raised concerns about overtreatment.
The concerns included whether many patients in Ohio and elsewhere were receiving expensive and inappropriate medical treatments because of the high fees the procedures generated.

The main whistleblower in the lawsuit described how doctors put pressure on nurses and staff to falsify complaints of chest pain in the medical records.  Further, he alleged that cardiologists would bring back the same patient multiple times for stenting of individual coronaries, rather than just do them all at once, allowing the practice to bill 2,3,4 times for the same patient.  A neat little trick, indeed.

These assholes, along with stories like this, compromise the integrity of an entire profession.  We wonder why the general public perceives physicians as too often concerned with optimizing profits above all else.  I did not see anything about sanctions from the State Medical Board but I would hope disciplinary measures are forthcoming.  The head of the cardiology group and a spokesman from the hospital both deny any wrong doing.   

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised they even hired RNs as most practices that want to play fast and loose would probably use medical assistants not RNs. If you are gonna do some major illegal stuff you want uneducated and unlicensed MA staff working for you.

One clue to a bad practice is the constant revolving door of RNs. Usually they will quit once they get an idea things might not be right - hard to keep doing in a down economy.

Note to all, ask if you are being seen by a registered nurse next time you visit your MD. It's not fool proof, but having someone who also has their own license to protect is one more protection for you.