If you Google “unnecessary heart stents” most of the searches come up discussing the stent debacle at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Maryland. But Maryland might just be the tipping point. The same health care system with the same financial incentives for doctors for using heart stents exists throughout the country. I suspect unnecessary stent medical malpractice lawsuits will be the next wave of malpractice lawsuits. In many jurisdictions, although I suspect not in Maryland when all is said and done, there will be a great case for punitive damages.
Stent lawsuits in jurisdictions with punitive damages involving a hospital systematically providing unnecessary heart stents may be big cases. Punitive damage claims against individual doctors are typically of limited utility because the doctors have limited assets – relatively speaking – and the insurance policies do not cover intentional torts. Obviously, hospitals have more insurance and deeper pockets.