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Lawmakers Propose Bill To Regulate Stents

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Hellgren Mike 370x278 (2) Mike Hellgren
WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — There was another critical debate in Annapolis Wednesday.  This one focused on protecting hearts in Maryland after many learned they were offered a stent procedure they did not need.  Lawmakers are working to better regulate the surgery.

Mike Hellgren reports.

This puts some teeth into regulations and would make Maryland a national leader in accreditation for these stent operations.

Maryland is considering tough new regulations that would protect heart patients from unnecessary operations.  The push is an aftershock from the scandal that shook the medical community to its core: the dramatic fall of onetime star cardiologist Dr. Mark Midei, accused of putting hundreds of unnecessary stents—tiny mesh devices that unclog arteries—in his patients at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson.

“Patients are getting all this bad information and patients are not understanding how to seek good quality care,” said Dr. Mark Turco.

The new legislation would require labs hold special certification, that they be subjected to the review of their peers and the state come up with guidelines to prevent unneeded, expensive and potentially dangerous operations.

“I think I deserve this information and I think every patient does,” said patient Jim Starnes.

The Midei case has prompted other states to consider similar regulations. Midei is also accused of having a relationship that was too cozy with a major stent manufacturer but has denied any wrongdoing.

“The cases that I was doing were the same kinds of cases that were provided to patients across the U.S.,” Midei said.

At $10,000 each, the stent operations are lucrative and lawmakers, doctors and patients who support tighter controls say decisions should be based on what’s best for the patient.

If this passes, it would not go into effect until 2014.

Right now, Dr. Mark Midei and St. Joseph face dozens of lawsuits from patients and Midei is suing St. Joseph, claiming the hospital destroyed his reputation.

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