After over 500 civil lawsuits were filed against King’s Daughters Medical Center in Kentucky earlier this year for unnecessarily implanting stents, the hospital is now reportedly headed toward settlement with the United States Department of Justice.

The hospital told municipal bondholders last week that $48.9 million has been set aside to settle the case which involves lack of informed consent of the patients involved.

In both the DOJ investigation and the civil lawsuits, it has been alleged that the hospital had been performing a high number of stent implantations, many of which were unnecessary and potentially harmful to the patients. In this situation, the stenting procedures were not even due to a doctor error but were allegedly done for the financial benefit of the hospital. The motivation, according to court papers, was the ability of the hospital to collect money for the procedures from the patients, insurance companies and the federal and state governments.

While stents can save the lives of heart patients who need them, those who don’t need them can be endangered by unnecessary surgery, both at the time of the procedure and from side effects afterwards.  Stents are used to keep arteries open in cardiac patients to prevent the arteries from collapsing and causing heart issues.

While the hospital and the Justice Department are moving toward a settlement, the civil lawsuits are still pending as patients seek compensation for damages based upon the hospital negligence.

With over 500 cases pending, the litigation could continue for some time unless the hospital and other parties decide to settle those claims as well.

Source: Daily Independent, “KDMC settlement pending,” Mike James, April 1, 2014

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