Maryland medical board files charges against cardiologist

By Tricia Bishop
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 13, 2010

The regulatory board responsible for licensing doctors in Maryland has filed administrative charges against a Towson cardiologist accused of performing hundreds of unnecessary procedures, beginning a process that could strip him of the authority to practice medicine in the state.

In a 19-page document made public Friday, the Maryland Board of Physicians accuses Dr. Mark G. Midei of "gross overutilization of health care services" and "willfully making a false report or record in the practice of medicine," among other violations of state law.

Midei, who ran the cardiac catheterization lab at St. Joseph Medical Center until last year, is alleged to have put stents in the arteries of patients who did not need them. He is also accused of falsifying medical records to make it appear that the patients were candidates for the expensive -- and sometimes dangerous -- procedure.

If the board's charges are upheld, Midei could be fined and lose his medical license. Board members have scheduled a conference Aug. 4 to discuss the case with Midei at their Baltimore offices.

A statement e-mailed Friday to the Baltimore Sun by Midei's spokesman said: "We have just received the letter from the Maryland Board of Physicians and we are in the process of reviewing it. We continue to stand by our prior statements that Dr. Mark Midei's care was appropriate. We look forward to future discussions with the board."

The board charges, lodged after an investigation of patient records, provide the first independent verification of complaints made more than a year ago to board members and to the staff at St. Joseph, which revoked Midei's hospital privileges last summer after its own investigation.

Warning letters

The Towson hospital has sent letters to 585 of Midei's patients -- out of 2,000 cases it reviewed -- warning them that their stent procedures might have been unwarranted, needlessly exposing them to the risk of death from blood clots and the effects of a lifetime of taking blood-thinning drugs.

Midei, who is also being investigated by a separate state committee and is a subject in at least two federal inquiries, has said that he expects to be exonerated. Court papers filed on his behalf in response to a malpractice lawsuit suggest that the allegations against him have been inflated by attorneys.

Some supporters have contended in letters to the Sun that Midei is being framed by a former colleague; others credit Midei with saving their lives.

"I asked for and felt very fortunate to have my procedures done by Dr. Midei," wrote Bill Gavin, who received a stent in 2004, in an e-mail to the Sun. "I would ask for him again without any hesitation."

According to the Board of Physicians' charging document signed Monday, Midei regularly overestimated the level of narrowing, or "stenosis," patients had in their arteries.

"He expressed a little bit of surprise" when told by a St. Joseph review committee that he had an "established pattern of overestimating," the document states.

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