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Hospital, doctor settle med mal cases involving unneeded devices

In the middle of a significant medical malpractice trial that may have attracted the attention of some Pennsylvania residents, a doctor and a hospital suddenly decided to settle several cases for an undisclosed amount. Some reports suggest that the hospital agreed to pay $22 million.

During this medical malpractice trial, which was scheduled to last for several months, observers expected that the jury would hear how one supposedly leading expert in his field began to implant stents in his patients' arteries in order to unclog them, even though from a medical perspective, the patient did not truly need the procedure.

In fact, the standard is that a doctor should only implant a stent once an artery is 70 percent blocked; this doctor would perform the procedure when an artery was only 20 percent blocked. He would later claim to his patients that the artery was almost completely obstructed.

These patients may have first discovered the doctor's egregious negligence when a separate investigation revealed that the doctor had also been inappropriately taking insurance payments for these unnecessary procedures and had also violated other federal insurance regulations.

Medical professional negligence can manifest itself to Pennsylvanians in many different ways; in this case, the negligence did not involve a misdiagnosis or a delayed treatment but an unnecessary procedure with which this doctor's patients now have to live. Some may liken this malpractice to outright fraud.

In any event, however, Pennsylvania doctors have a duty not to perform unnecessary and invasive procedures; even when there is a necessity, they must make sure that their patients are as fully informed about the potential risks of the procedure as possible. Compensation may be available to patients when a doctor fails to meet these obligations.

Source: WBAL TV, "Settlement reached in St. Joe's medical malpractice case," May 3, 2013

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