There has been a lot of publicity lately about a doctor at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland, that supposedly implanted cardiac stents that may not have been necessary. The publicity started after St. Joseph Medical Center sent out letters to 369 former patients stating that a review of surgeries by Dr. Mark Midei revealed that Dr. Midei may have told these people that they had severe coronary artery blockages that they actually didn’t have, and then recommend and performed stent surgery on these people when it was not necessary. Usually, such stents are only placed in people who have blockages of 70% or more. A copy of the article regarding this issue can be found here.
In the article, a women is quoted who was told that she had a 90% blockage and underwent stent surgery as a result, but after getting a letter discovered that she only had a 10% blockage and didn’t need the surgery. Not only did she undergo unnecessary surgery, but she incorrectly believed she had severe cardiac disease and now has to take blood thinners for life due to the stent.
There are clearly a lot of unanswered questions here. Who was reading the heart scans and incorrectly interpreting / reporting on them, why did Dr. Midei not pick up on this, why did St. Joseph Medical Center not pick up on this earlier, were there financial incentives for any of these parties that gave them incentive to do this, etc.
Another problem will be fairly compensating for such a large number of claimants. Most doctors in Maryland only carry $1 million in medical malpractice insurance, though some have $2 or $3 million. His employer, a professional group of doctors, may have some more malpractice insurance or assets, but probably not much more than the doctor. The real deep pocket here is St. Joseph. If there is any liability on St. Joe’s behalf, then the insurance and assets available to satisfy malpractice judgments clearly is a lot more than what the doctor and his group have.
Recently, a lot of attorneys have been advertising for such cases the newspaper and on television. These attorneys will be collecting as many cases as they can. An attorney who has a large number of cases cannot possibly try those cases in any reasonable time period. As such, in my experience, people are better served by attorneys pursuing a limited number of cases.
As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I only take about a dozen large med mal cases a year. I think it better serves my clients.