Stent Reps Disobeying Hospital Ban Linked to Questionable Implants

Stent sales representatives, who disobeyed a Baltimore hospital's ban on salespeople occupying cardiac treatment rooms while procedures are being performed, are being linked to a cardiologist sued for unnecessarily implanting the stents, according to a report by The Baltimore Sun.

Cardiologist Mark G. Midei, MD, used the cardiac catheterization lab at 300-bed St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Md. According to filings in the lawsuit, Abbott threw parties at Dr. Midei's home and built a business strategy around his high procedure rate, awarding him about $37,000 as a consultant before and after his termination from St. Joseph.

A Senate committee recently observed that close connections between Abbott and Dr. Midei caused him to "intensify his use of stents, with unfortunate results." The committee added that Dr. Midei's implants represented "a clear example of potential fraud, waste and abuse."

Although most hospitals limit vendors' access to physicians, device representatives frequently disregard those rules and form close relationships with physicians and their staff. In a recent study in the American Journal of Cardiology, reviewers of stent procedures at Stanford University concluded that the presence of sales representatives in treatment rooms significantly increased chances of the product being used.

Abbott responded that "sales representatives are expected to be subject matter experts on the features, benefits, preparation and deployment of each company's products" and are "regularly invited by doctors into the hospital to provide demonstrations and answer questions on the company's products to ensure they are being utilized in a safe and effective manner."

Read The Baltimore Sun report about Dr. Mark Midei and stents.

Read more coverage of medical devices:

- Incoming House Oversight Chair Targets Orthopedic, Other Medical Devices

- Medical Device Makers Struggle When Hospitals Buy Physician Practices

- HIMSS Analytics Measures EMR, Medical Device Integration

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