A hospital in western Pennsylvania says that at least 141 heart patients received coronary stents that weren’t needed, according to an article by Luis Fabregas in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg, PA has informed the patients and the 2 interventional cardiologists who performed the procedures have resigned. The hospital says that it will cooperate with the Office of the Inspector General.
The episode had its origins early in 2010 when “several unidentified physicians alerted hospital officials about a pattern of excessive stent use in the cardiac catheterization laboratory,” according to the news report. The hospital then initiated an external review of the 7 cardiologists and 2 interventional radiologists who implanted stents at the hospital. The first preliminary review was completed in December and raised concerns about excessive stent implantation by two cardiologists, Ehab Morcos and George Bousamra. They resigned their privileges at the hospital on Jan. 12 when they were asked about the results of the review.
The hospital then began a thorough review of all 753 cases performed in 2010 by the 2 cardiologists. The review by 8 independent cardiologists found that 149 stents had been implanted unnecessarily in 141 people. The hospital has now hired an ”internationally recognized university” to provide quality control for the cath lab.
“The fact that we investigated this quickly, in an in-depth and professional manner, in a transparent way, should signal that we’re committed to having a transparent organization,” said the hospital’s CEO.
The incident is reminiscent of a similar case in Maryland, where the formerly prominent interventional cardiologist Mark Midei has been accused of implanting hundreds of unnecessary stents. Many observers have wondered whether the Midei incident would spark similar investigations in other communities. It appears that the concerns about the Pennsylvania case were first raised when the Midei case began to receive public attention.