A Kentucky medical malpractice jury awarded a local man $21.25 million in compensatory and punitive damages on August 10, 2016 against a local hospital and its owner for allegedly allowing an unnecessary cardiac procedure to be performed on him. The jury found that the defendant hospital and its parent company were not only negligent, but that they had also entered into a civil conspiracy and violated consumer protection laws. The jury’s verdict included $1.25 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages.
There are about 170 additional medical malpractice cases pending against the same hospital and its owner for alleged unnecessary cardiac procedures, including unnecessary implantation of pacemakers, stents, and unnecessary catheterization procedures.
In the Kentucky medical malpractice case decided last week, the truck driver/plaintiff had a cardiac catheterization done at the defendant hospital in September 2010, after which the cardiac surgeon advised him that he had a 60% blockage in an artery that required that a pacemaker be implanted, otherwise he would die. The man agreed to have the pacemaker implanted, which was done at the defendant hospital. Later, the same cardiac surgeon told the man that he needed a stent implanted.
The man sought a second opinion regarding whether he needed a stent, and testing at that time showed that his artery was only 10% blocked (not the 60% blockage he was told), that he did not need the pacemaker (which cannot be removed), and that no stent was necessary. As a result of the pacemaker being implanted, the man suffered a shoulder injury and had to change jobs that keeps him away from home more often, thereby affecting his family as well as him.
The defendant hospital allegedly arranged a system in which it bought the services of the cardiac surgeon who performed the plaintiff’s unnecessary pacemaker procedure, as well as other physicians, and provided them with financial incentives to increase the number of heart procedures performed at the defendant hospital, but failed to monitor the physicians to ensure that the cardiac procedures they were performing were necessary.
The cardiac surgeon who implanted the unnecessary pacemaker in the plaintiff and recommended an unnecessary stent was reportedly indicted by a grand jury in June 2016 for defrauding Medicare, Medicaid, and other health plans by billing for unnecessary heart procedures between March 2007 and July 2011. The cardiac surgeon has pleaded not guilty to the federal criminal charges.
Another physician who had worked at the defendant hospital is serving a 30-year sentence after pleading guilty in 2013 to criminal charges that he lied regarding the severity of a patient’s condition so that the government would pay for an unnecessary heart procedure.
The owner of the defendant hospital agreed to pay $16.5 million to the government in January 2014, to settle claims that it engaged in a pervasive scheme to bill Medicare and Medicaid for unnecessary heart procedures at the defendant hospital between January 2008 and August 2011.
If you or a loved one had an unnecessary cardiac procedure in Kentucky or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the advice of a Kentucky medical malpractice lawyer or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your unnecessary cardiac procedure claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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