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Hospitals scrutinized over unnecessary stent procedures

San Antonio residents may be concerned about emerging details concerning the use of stents. Many experts believe that stents are often implanted unnecessarily to boost revenues at medical facilities, and several medical malpractice lawsuits have been filed after surgical procedures involving stents went badly wrong. Three whistle-blower lawsuits and five federal cases describe padded fees, kickbacks, ghost jobs and debt forgiveness in hospitals advocating the use of stents.

One of the cases involved a Georgia hospital where a patient died after a surgeon with a track record of mistakes was allowed to keep operating even after numerous warnings from other doctors. A malpractice suit, brought on behalf of a woman who suffered a torn aorta at the hands of the surgeon, claims that producing revenue was considered more important by the hospital than patient safety. The lawsuit alleges that the hospital did not want to jeopardize the income that they earned from their catheterization clinic.

Stents are metallic mesh devices used to keep the arteries open in heart patients, and over seven million of the devices have been implanted into patients in the last ten years. This has generated revenue of over $110 billion for hospitals and medical centers. However, many medical experts believe that up to a third of these procedures were unnecessary. The problem was highlighted in a report from Harvard University, which observed that hospitals have little reason to question the decision to implant a stent when they earn up to 40 percent of their income from this type of procedure.

Patients expect that the decisions affecting them made by medical professionals will be based on their well-being, but it seems that financial motives can sometimes play a part. An experienced medical malpractice attorney may be able to help victims of doctor or hospital errors to receive compensation. They could also help to hold medical professionals accountable for the consequences of their actions.

Source: Bloomberg, “Mother Dies Amid Abuses in $110 Billion U.S. Stent Assembly Line“, Sydney P. Freedberg, October 09, 2013