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Justice Department Scrutinizing Heart Procedures at HCA Hospitals

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One day after the New York Times published a report that HCA Holdings Inc., the largest hospital operator in the country, probed numerous reports of doctors conducting unnecessary surgeries yet did not report the probes to patients, insurers, or medical authorizes, the company said in a regulatory filing that a U.S. Attorney in Miami has requested information regarding the “medical necessity” of cardiac procedures in Florida hospitals.

The New York Times said they conducted interviews, and reviewed thousands of documents and found “the problems at HCA went beyond a rogue doctor or two.” The paper said cardiologists were performing unjustified procedures from as far back as 2002, and these procedures sometimes caused injury to the patient requiring hospitalization. The paper reports that half of the 1,200 cardiac catheterizations performed at one facility were done on patients who presented with no significant heart disease, while 43 percent of 355 angioplasties done at another facility to open clogged arteries were “outside reasonable and expected medical practice,” an internal memo said.

Prior to the Times article being published yesterday, HCA posted a statement to its website that said, “These physician-driven decisions have been and are the subject of much debate within the cardiology community. Accordingly, there is variation across the country, between regions, within regions, and even within the same medical staff or medical group regarding this issue.” The company said that the U.S. Department of Justice had “requested information on reviews assessing the medical necessity of interventional cardiology services provided at any company facility (other than peer reviews)”.

HCA also said that 20 million visits had been made to its facilities last year and, “we deeply regret any adverse occurrences to even one of our patients.” Bloomberg Businessweek reports that HCA owns 160 hospitals and 110 surgery centers. disclaimer: This article: Justice Department Scrutinizing Heart Procedures at HCA Hospitals was posted on Tuesday, August 7th, 2012 at 8:18 pm at and is filed under Medical Malpractice Lawsuits.

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