The largest for-profit hospital chain in the United States, HCA, has 163 medical facilities in the United States. HCA owns hospitals in about 20 states, including Florida, where the population of elderly has led its Florida hospitals to be responsible for about 20% of HCA’s revenues.
HCA became a private company in 2006 as a result of the investment by a group of private equity firms that included Mitt Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital. As HCA prepared for its initial public stock offering in 2011, the private equity firms received dividends payments in the amount of $4.3 billion, which HCA borrowed to pay.
In 2000, HCA paid $1.7 billion in fines and repayments in a Medicare fraud case involving over-billing allegations and other claims. Florida’s current governor, Rick Scott, was HCA’s top executive at the time of the alleged over-billing. Although Mr. Scott was removed from his position by HCA’s Board, he was not accused of personal wrongdoing.
Two years later, HCA’s executives uncovered problems with its cardiac catheterization lab at Cedars Medical Center in Miami, Florida.
There is evidence that from 2002 to late 2010, cardiologists in several of HCA’s hospitals in Florida performed questionable (unnecessary) cardiac procedures, including at Cedars Medical Center (which is no longer owned by HCA) and at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point (“Bayonet Point”). At one facility, approximately one-half of the cardiac catheterizations that were reviewed in 2010 may have been on patients without significant cardiac disease (which HCA disputes).
HCA announced that eight doctors at Cedars Medical Center would be suspended from performing certain cardiac procedures. HCA subsequently allowed four of the eight to return if they agreed to monitoring, and two of the doctors did return.
In 2003, HCA became concerned about the number of cardiac stents being implanted in patients at its 290-bed Bayonet Point facility. In 2004, HCA hired an outside firm to review medical records for patients at Bayonet Point. The outside firm reported that the medical records it reviewed indicated that as many as 43% of the 355 angioplasties performed at Bayonet Point were not within reasonable and expected medical practice and that some doctors wrote in patients’ medical records that their blockages were 80% to 90% when they were actually 33% to 53% (in general, blockages should be at least 70% to justify the invasive procedures). As a result, nine Bayonet Point doctors had their privileges suspended in 2004, but HCA came under further attack for allegedly withholding from the media and others details regarding the conclusions of its investigation.
The financial incentives for hospitals and doctors to perform cardiac procedures is huge: Medicare reimburses hospitals at the rate of approximately $10,000 for stent procedures and approximately $3,000 for diagnostic cardiac catheterization procedures. Some hospitals (including HCA hospitals — HCA has over 100 cardiac catheterizations labs in the United States) perform thousands of cardiac catheterizations and stent procedures each year.
If you, a family member, or a loved one may have had an unnecessary stent procedure or an unnecessary cardiac catheterization procedure in the United States, the victim of the unnecessary procedure (or the victim’s surviving family) may be entitled to financial compensation. The prompt advice from a local medical malpractice attorney may be essential in protecting your legal rights.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be willing to investigate your unnecessary stent claim and/or unnecessary cardiac catheterization claim for you and represent you with your claim, if appropriate.
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