Get­ting the royal treat­ment

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

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.

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