Hundreds of heart patients undergo risky surgeries that may have been  unnecessary.  Now state lawmakers could take action, hoping to stop what some call a rush to the operating room.  Adam May has more.

The kickback scandal involving St. Joseph’s Medical Center–billing the government for unnecessary stent surgeries placed in patients to strengthen weak arteries–just led to a $22 million settlement last week.  Now there are hearings in Annapolis this week.

“We feel very strongly that those…should be dealt with,” said Dr. Mark Turco, who testified on behalf of two cardiology groups.  He told a House health committee his fellow doctors favor some sort of new legislation to repair patient trust.

“I think Maryland can really take the lead in the legislation here and try to move forward with strong peer review processes with good external oversight,” he said.

State health officials want stronger legislation to include reforms that improve communication between various oversight agencies.

“I think the goal is to find that balance between making sure people have access to need-appropriate and affordable health care and at the same time that they were not receiving services they ought not to because there’s financial or other incentives for the provider to over-provide services,” said John Colmers.

Any state legislation still has a long way to go.  While hearings are underway now, the next session doesn’t start until January 12.

Just last year, state lawmakers also passed a law that tackles medical fraud.


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