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Local News

September 4, 2012

Lawsuit lists more than 300 patients

Claims of ‘unnecessary’ heart procedures by Saint Joseph cardiologists

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — More than 300 former heart patients are listed in a lawsuit filed against Saint Joseph London, cardiologists and agencies involved with its operation and billing services.

The lawsuit was filed by Louisville attorney Hans Poppe, who has previously filed similar lawsuits claiming patients were allegedly subjected to “unnecessary” heart procedures.

This last lawsuit is a compilation of 339 cases that Poppe has had investigated and claim that cardiologists working through Saint Joseph London performed heart-related procedures on patients who did not need the procedures.

The defendants in the case include Catholic Health Initiatives, the owning company for the London hospital; Saint Joseph Health System Inc., Saint Joseph London, Premier Heart and Vascular Center, London Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, Cardiovascular Specialists PSC, Cardiovascular Specialists of the Cumberlands PLLC, The Heart Center, Heart Clinic of Southeast Kentucky PSC, and The Medical Specialists of Kentucky PSC.

Cardiologists listed in the overall lawsuit include Drs. Oluwole Abe, Ashwini Anand, Anis Chalhoub, Satybrata Chatterjee, Minoo Kavarana, Olawale Olatunji, Sandesh Patil, Suresh Rekhraj, Srikanth Sadhu, James H. Shoptaw, and Raul L. Vilca.

The lawsuit also names the billing and management organizations for the cardiologists, specifically Management Service Organization and MSO of Kentucky Inc.

Eleven of the 339 plaintiffs are deceased and three are represented by an appointed representative. The remaining eight plaintiffs are represented by the spouse of the patient who was allegedly subjected to unnecessary surgeries and/or procedures.

Similarly to the 30 other lawsuits Poppe has filed against the hospital over the past year, these lawsuits claim negligence/gross negligence, lack of informed consent, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, fraudulent concealment; negligent hiring, credentialing, supervision and privileging; unjust enrichment, civil conspiracy, violation of the Consumer Protection Act and loss of consortium against the hospital, the cardiologists, and its billing agencies.

The lawsuit accuses the cardiologists of knowingly performing surgeries and procedures on patients who did not meet the minimum requirements outlined by the American Medical Association. The doctors are charged with working together to perform these acts to make more money for themselves and the hospital and that the doctors received bonuses and benefits from the hospital for doing so. The hospital’s involvement comes in on the claim that officials knew that some of the procedures were unnecessary but not did check the doctors’ records to confirm the status of the patients’ conditions.

“This agreement or understanding allowed all defendants to benefit financially from unnecessary and non-indicted procedures, and was likely in violation of state and federal laws regarding kickbacks and referrals,” the lawsuit states.

Officials with Saint Joseph Health Systems issued the following statement regarding the continued lawsuits:

“We are aware of the lawsuits and take the allegations seriously, but we cannot comment any further on pending litigation.  Saint Joseph London remains committed to delivering the best possible care to all of our patients, including our cardiology patients.”

A lawsuit is a claim and only represents one side of a dispute. The parties accused of wrong-doing are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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