The Problem of Overstenting

In the last few months, the media reported about a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland concerning “overstenting” which is essentially performing an unnecessary medical procedure. In the case cited by the press, a cardiologist faced disciplinary action and a medical malpractice lawsuit for engaging in unnecessary and unwarranted medical procedures on a patient that didn’t require cardiac stents.
Unnecessary medical procedures are dangerous to the patient and contribute to the rising costs of healthcare in this country. Overstenting is perhaps the most recently publicized example of such unethical behavior but it is not the only type of medical intervention that is not necessary.
In order to address this problem, healthcare advocates have recommended new procedures that would monitor medical interventions such as stent implantation. One such group,the Technical Advisory Group on Oversight of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Services, a group of experts tasked by the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) has made the following recommendations: “a new law requiring that all hospitals that provide PCI services undergo continuing evaluation of their performance based on established standards. They also recommend that cath labs be subject to periodic peer review. These suggestions are consistent with changes advocated by the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) in its so-far unsuccessful effort to convince Maryland’s legislature to require national accreditation of all cath labs in the state, but the committee did not propose that state law regulate physician reviews in hospitals, as SCAI and other advocates of greater cath-lab oversight are calling for.”