So it was with considerable surprise that I saw this piece from the Baltimore Sun:
"An internal review, begun last May at the behest of federal investigators and in response to a patient complaint, has turned up 369 patients with stents that appear to have been implanted in their arteries unnecessarily, CEO Jeffrey K. Norman said in an interview yesterday. Patients began receiving letters alerting them to the finding early last month, and more notifications are expected as the review continues.As bad as this might seem, realize that during angiogram procedures there are technicians and nurses that are responsible for prepping the room, administering meds and monitoring the patient. No physician works in isolation and everyone can see the monitors. Face it, the difference between a 95% blockage and a 10% blockage in a coronary artery is not subtle.
"We take our interaction and the care of our patients with the utmost seriousness, and so we wanted to alert patients and their physicians to what we found," said Norman.
In several cases reviewed by The Baltimore Sun, patients who received coronary stents at St. Joseph - purportedly to open a clogged artery to correct a severe blockage - have since learned they had only minor blockage, if any. One 69-year-old man was told his artery had a 95 percent blockage, yet the new review suggests something closer to 10 percent, which is considered insignificant. A 55-year-old woman who agreed to receive a stent after being told she had a 90 percent blockage has since learned she had virtually no problem and that she never suffered from the heart diagnosis that has consumed her life for the past 18 months."
So, yes, the doctor's actions in this case are unconscionable and should be met with swift action, but when something like this is allowed to occur it's much more than the fault of a single doctor.
This was a system problem.