The NY Times continued their expose and reported that in 2003, an independent review reported trouble at HCA's Cedars Medical Center's cardiac catheterization lab: too many unnecessary cardiac procedures. Eight doctors were suspended, a report was presented to a US attorney, and refunds were promised, though it is unclear whether they were actually sent.
In 2004, the hammer came down on HCA's Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, which was found to insert too many cardiac stents and to treat too many non-diseased lesions. The year before, Bayonet Point was scrutinized by an internal review and an independent external agency, CardioQual Associates, was hired to look into the matter.
They determined up to 43% of angioplasties to be unnecessary. Although doctors reported 80-90% artery blockages, the report found the numbers to instead be 33-53%, which indicates possible impropriety, especially because blockage below 70% does not require operation.
One such operation left a 44-year-old man with a "punctured blood vessel and a near-fatal irregular heartbeat." Another patient without heart disease had her vessel cut during an unnecessary stent procedure, which sent her into cardiac arrest. Both patients survived.
After the 2004 review, however, HCA actively blocked the media and government from much relevant information, although nine physicians had their privileges suspended. These physicians have since sued for defamation.
In 2010, nurse C.T. Tomlinson of Lawnwood Center complained about a procedure in 2008, when Dr. Abdul Shadani inserted a stent for someone who clearly did not need it. An internal investigation corroborated Tomlinson's story and noted that about half (1200) of cardiac catheterizations at the hospital were unnecessary, including 13 of 17 of Dr. Shadani's scrutinized procedures. Dr. Shadani today remains at Lawnwood. HCA disputes these figures and has since not renewed Tomlinson's contract.
Again, I ask the question based on the NY Times investigative expose: "Profit or Patient Safety?"