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Md. Lawmakers Have Close Eye On Doctors Using Cardiac Stents

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Derek Valcourt 370x278 Derek Valcourt
Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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TOWSON, Md. (WJZ)– Maryland lawmakers want to make sure someone’s keeping a close eye on doctors performing cardiac stent procedures in the wake of a scandal involving one of the area’s top cardiologists.

Derek Valcourt reports there’s a state investigation into the matter and some new legislation in the works.

Stents are tiny devices designed to open up clogged arteries.Whether or not hundreds of patients who got them really needed them is the question at the center of a contentious legal battle between those patients, their cardiologist Dr. Mark Midei and his former employer St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson.

The controversy spurred a U.S. Senate investigation into the matter and a statewide review of other hospitals performing stent procedures.

“So we will be aggressive in checking and only then if we find a problem will we be acting on it,” said Joshua Sharfstein, Maryland Health Secretary.

Sharfstein was part of a panel briefing lawmakers in Annapolis on Wednesday on the status of their still ongoing investigation.

“If we see a warning sign, we would then approach the hospital and have them bring together outside experts to actually look to see whether the care was appropriate,” Sharfstein said.

But it’s not just about questioning problems in the past. Some lawmakers are looking for ways to prevent problems from happening in the future.

Del. Dan Morhaim– the only medical doctor in the General Assembly– says he’ll introduce a bill requiring cardiac cath labs in Maryland to be accredited and to conduct objective reviews of the procedures performed.

“All the reviewers would have to be done without conflict of interest and they would be blinded so they wouldn’t know whose cases they would be reviewing and a number of other features so there can be no gamesmanship in the review process,” said Morhaim.

It’s an idea some stent patients wish had been in place before their procedure.

So far, investigators have identified another Maryland hospital for closer look at the stent procedures, but officials will not say which hospital it is.

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