Friday, November 28, 2014

St. Joseph London, doctors and others win the first of a dozen trials over allegations of unnecessary procedures at hospital

A jury has decided for the St. Joseph London hospital, several of its doctors and other defendants in a lawsuit that accused them of conspiring "to perform unnecessary, risky and often painful heart procedures to unjustly enrich themselves," Andrew Wolfson writes for The Courier-Journal.

After a three-week trial of the suit filed by Ed Marshall, the Laurel Circuit Court jury took only 40 minutes Nov. 21 to decide there had been no wrongdoing, Nita Johnson reports for The Sentinel-Echo. However, The C-J reports that the case was only the first of 12 "that will be tried to show the value of the cases to both sides, according to Louisville lawyer Hans Poppe, one of the plaintiff's lawyers. . . . He said Marshall had suffered five heart attacks before he was allegedly given an unnecessary stent and that the jury may have been reluctant to fault the defendants given his complex prior medical history."

"Marshall’s lawsuit spurred five other cardiology patients to step up with claims that the doctors were doing unnecessary procedures on patients with heart problems," Johnson reports. "The list of lawsuits continued to expand, with numerous patients and the family members of deceased patients joining in with the claims that the cardiologists were performing procedures that were not medically necessary. Before all was said and done, over 200 people had filed lawsuits against the London hospital, its owning agency – Catholic Health Initiatives; the cardiovascular company that referred patients to the local hospital, the medical billing organization, and individual cardiologists involved in certain procedures. One of those cardiologists – Sandesh Patil – is serving federal prison time for falsely billing Medicare for procedures" that the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure said didn't meet minimum guidelines.

In January, the hospital agreed to pay the federal government $16.5 million to resolve "civil allegations that it submitted fraudulent claims to the Medicare and Kentucky's Medicaid programs for unnecessary heart procedures," Wolfson notes. The deal also put the hospital under a corporate integrity agreement, and its president and chief nursing officer were replaced in September by officials who have experience in operating under such agreements, R. Scott Belzer reported for The Sentinel-Echo.

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