The well-publicized stent malpractice claims against St. Joseph’s Hospital, Mark Midei, M.D. and other potentially culpable medical providers have generated waives of commercials, advertisements, and posturing by lawyers for the 360 or so cases where patients received letters advising that they were the victims of wrongdoing and received stents they didn’t really need. As stressful as it is for these patients, who were confronted with ambiguous letters sent over the Christmas holiday, the stress has not ended.
They continue to wonder about the short and long term effects of having one or more stents in their bodies they never needed, the long term implications of using Plavix and other drugs that were prescribed because they have stents, and the rights and remedies they will be offered if and when these cases resolve. Now, they are confronted with a feeding frenzy by lawyers who are seeking to obtain control over all the claims by rushing to court and filing lawsuits to obtain class action status. As reported by the Baltimore Sun yesterday, two such cases have been filed in the last several days.
Those with potential stent claims should be aware that there are pros and cons to joining into or remaining in a class action. Although class action lawsuits may be useful in instances where many individuals have suffered relatively minor harms, so that the aggregation of the small claims gives the group a larger voice and leverage when the claims together amount to millions if not billions of dollars, some class actions are harmful to the rights of individual claimants.
Except for the lead plaintiffs and their attorneys, individual claimants have no control over how the class action lawsuit is handled, including choices involving whether a settlement should be reached and for how much. In cases where each individual claimant has suffered distinct and differing injuries, a class action settlement may not bring them the compensationthey are entitled to. In such cases, it may be better for individuals to file private actions and “opt out” of any class they have been joined into involuntarily. There are specific procedures under the Maryland and Federal Rules that govern class action procedures.
For more information on the pros and cons of class action claims and lawsuits, the lawyers at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz are available to discuss these issues in more detail. The firm is handling a small number of stent claims.
Finally, we believe the number of claimants will increase over time.The firm has received many phone calls from individualswho, althoughnot having received a letter from St. Joseph’s, describe circumstances suggesting that they received one or more stents unnecessarily. We encourage anyone suspecting that they underwent an unnecessary stenting procedure to consult witha cardiologist and have the films compared with the report dictated by the interventional cardiologist who peformed the stenting procedure.
St. Joseph’s internal review process that resulted in the issuance of the 360 letters was an internal review procedure with no outside oversight. It is our understanding that they used a criterion of 50% blockage to justify the performance of stenting. The review of films and radiology results is a subjective process that can differ from doctor to doctor. We encourage all patients to obtain an independent review of their medical records and films.All clients of the firm will have their medical records reviewed by experts at the firm’s sole expense.