Reporting Mike Hellgren
TOWSON, Md. (WJZ)— An Eastern Shore doctor may be going to prison for defrauding taxpayers out of thousands of dollars. The U.S. Attorney says it stems from heart operations he performed unnecessarily.
Mike Hellgren is on top of this investigation and has more on some new safeguards being put in place for patients statewide.
Dr. John McLean faces prison time after a federal jury convicted him of placing unnecessary stents in more than 200 patients on the Eastern Shore. They also found he performed unnecessary follow-up tests and defrauded Medicaid and Medicare of thousands of dollars.
His case is just the latest putting Maryland at the center of a national debate over whether stents–devices placed in blocked arteries to open them up–are overused and whether stent manufacturers have too cozy of a relationship with doctors.
Delegate Dr. Dan Morhaim is behind a new Maryland law that places strict specific safeguards on all operations.
“I think the key thing is that we’re confident that they’re very good standards, that people are being held accountable,” said Del. Morhaim, M.D.
“If there is any peer review process that does not pass muster then action can be taken to bring it into conformance with the law,” said Dr. David Hexter, Maryland State Medical Society.
The controversy over stents exploded after one of the state’s most prominent cardiologists Mark Midei faced accusations he performed hundreds of unnecessary stent operations while at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson.
“What I did was what I would want for myself,” he once said.
The State Board of Physicians recently stripped him of his medical license. Midei still faces lawsuits. But unlike Dr. McLean, he has yet to face criminal charges.
Some former patients are angry.
“Dr. Midei said it was 90 percent and after they reviewed everything it was 10 percent,” said Vicki Mars, Midei’s former patient. “I’d like to see him do some jail time.”
As for McLean, on his Medicaid fraud conviction, the U.S. Attorney wants him to pay back more than $700,000. The charges carry a maximum of 35 years in prison.
Morhaim wants to make sure all patients feel safe.
“People just have to be assured and have as much confidence as possible that things are being done for the right reasons and not for any other reasons,” Morhaim said.
Morhaim says people should always feel free to seek a second opinion to make sure they’re comfortable with any diagnosis.
McLean will be sentenced in November.