Health: First Lawsuit Filed In Unnecessary Stent Investigation

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Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In a Health Watch exclusive, Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl follows up on a story we first told you about last month.

Patients in Philadelphia are getting unnecessary stents. Today, the first lawsuit was filed, and many more are expected.

Penn Medicine has already admitted there was a problem. Patients were implanted with heart stents they didn’t need by a doctor who’s no longer with the system. The lawyer for one patient who filed suit today says it’s about greed.

Fifty-one-year-old Cynthia Justice has a stent in her heart that she doesn’t need, according to a lawsuit filed against cardiologist Vidya Banka and Penn Medicine. Shanin Specter is her lawyer.

“A stent was placed in a coronary artery for no good reason. She did not have the surgical indications of a blockage large enough to require a stent, and as alleged, it was done purely for profit,” said Shanin.

Cardiac stents are small, expandable tubes used to treat damaged arteries.

In early April, Penn Medicine notified some patients that they may have received unnecessary stents at Pennsylvania Hospital.

John O’Brien received one of the letters, but he’s still supportive of Dr. Banka, who resigned from the hospital.

“Well, I will certainly find out where he is going, and I’ll be going there from now on,” said Dr. Banka. He initially defended himself, but now says he’s been advised by lawyers not to comment.

“This isn’t carelessness. This is intentional misconduct, so it’s a very grave situation,” said Specter. He says Cynthia Justice had only complained of shortness of breath and had no heart problems. He has a document from Pennsylvania Hospital that says a review of her case indicates “…the placement of the stent appeared to be inappropriate…”

“Now she’s facing a lifetime of requiring anti-coagulant therapy, and she has the knowledge that she has this foreign object in her body for no good reason,” said Specter.

Penn Medicine said today it doesn’t comment on pending litigation. A previous statement said state and federal authorities had already been notified.

The U.S. Attorney General’s Office told 3 On Your Side they don’t confirm or deny investigations.

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