Getting the royal treatment
Everyone knows the gravitas that comes with being the Sausage King of Chicago (Thank you, Abe Froman*). But Outliers is betting it’s also nice to be the Stent King of Baltimore.
Cardiologist Mark Midei came under the microscope of a congressional investigation this month for installing reportedly more than 585 medically unnecessary heart stents between 2007 and 2009 at a medical center in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Md. The Senate Finance Committee excoriated Midei for the procedures, which it said cost Medicare $3.8 million. On Aug. 28, 2008, Midei implanted 30 of the devices in one day—which was probably a one-day record, according to reports in the Baltimore Sun.
Stent maker Abbott Laboratories, however, had a different reaction than Congress. According to records subpoenaed by the committee, Abbott made the cardiologist a member of its Project Victory and showered him with “VIP trips,” and perks such as a $1,235 pig roast at his home, according to Baltimore Sun columnist Jay Hancock. ( Outliers hopes it was a heart-healthy pig roast. He is a cardiologist, after all.)
After the newspaper started divulging information about Midei publicly, Abbott executive David Pacitti wrote an e-mail to a subordinate, saying, “Someone needs to take this writer outside and kick his (butt)! Do I need to send in the Philly mob?” The e-mail was obtained by the committee and published in the Sun.
Midei’s attorney, Stephen Snyder, says the report told only part of the story, and that its timing seemed suspect. After all, Midei was facing a hearing the following week about the fate of his medical license. *If you don’t know who Mr. Froman is, you must not have watched “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” as many times as we have.