|Lexington Herald-Leader photo
A jury said Wednesday that St. Joseph Health System and its parent firm should pay a Corbin milk-truck driver $21.2 million in damages for unnecessary surgeries on his heart at its London hospital. The verdict for Kevin Wells was “the latest blow for Catholic Health Initiatives” in Kentucky, reports Andrew Wolfson of The Courier-Journal.
claims to the Medicare and Kentucky Medicaid programs for a variety of
medically unnecessary heart procedures” at the hospital, Wolfson notes. “St. Joseph Health System merged with Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s
HealthCare in 2012 to form KentuckyOne Health. The alleged violations
covered in the settlement were before the merger,” notes Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
“Dr. Anis Chalhoub, who implanted the pacemaker in Wells, was indicted in June on criminal fraud charges
of implanting the devices into patients without ‘sufficient need or
justification.’ Federal prosecutors said the alleged crimes were related
to a scheme for which another cardiologist, Dr. Sandesh Patil, was
sentenced to 2½ years in prison in 2013,” Wolfson reports. “He was accused of exaggerating
the severity of patients’ illnesses so he would be paid for treating
The jury in the Wells case in Laurel Circuit Court wasn’t told about Chalhoub’s indictment or Patil’s conviction, Wells attorney Hans Poppe of Louisville told Wolfson. He told Estep that he expects the hospital chain to appeal.
Wells’s lawsuit “was one of hundreds filed by patients who alleged they were the victims of unnecessary surgery and implantation of stents and other devices,” Wolfson reports. “Two previous trials resulted in defense verdicts, but this was the first case in which the jury considered claims against the hospital, Poppe said.”
“The verdict is the most recent of a series of problems that have plagued CHI and KentuckyOne Health, its Kentucky unit,” Wolfson notes. “Triggered by a surgeon’s complaint that University of Louisville Hospital, which KentuckyOne manages, is dangerous, a state inspection last month found that deficiencies
in nursing services specifically endangered three patients. A dozen
nurses and doctors also told state inspectors that nursing and other
staff shortages put patients at risk.” The company “said the hospital is safe and has
made numerous improvements.”