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Stent recipients sue Westmoreland Hospital, 2 doctors

| Thursday, March 10, 2011

Westmoreland Hospital and two cardiologists who formerly worked there encouraged patients to consent to coronary stents that were medically unnecessary, according to a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court.

The lawsuit states the Greensburg hospital and Drs. Ehab F. Morcos and George M. Bousamra favored stent placement for the hospital's financial benefit, and administrators failed in oversight of the physicians and in informing patients about the procedure's dangers.

The plaintiffs, Carolyn Armstrong of Tarrs and Peter Mosco Jr. of Latrobe, asked for a court order preventing the hospital from performing stent procedures.

"They are devastated," said Downtown attorney William R. Caroselli, who represents Mosco. "They are wondering what happened to the idea that they put their faith in these physicians and the hospital."

Westmoreland spokesman Alan Taylor said officials had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment. Attempts to reach Morcos, Bousamra and their attorneys were unsuccessful. The doctors voluntarily resigned their privileges on Westmoreland's medical staff on Jan. 12.

Officials at Westmoreland and its parent, Excela Health, recently conducted two independent reviews by nationally recognized interventional cardiologists that concluded the two cardiologists implanted coronary stents in 141 patients who may not have needed them, the Tribune-Review reported March 3. The second review involved all 2010 stent procedures Morcos and Bousamra performed at Westmoreland. Another review under way involves 2009 stent cases they performed.

Armstrong and Mosco contend in the lawsuit that the doctors wrongly informed them that their coronary arteries were blocked at levels requiring a coronary stent -- a tiny wire-mesh device to open arteries. Experts say people may be treated with stents if their blockages are higher than 70 percent, although some patients get stents when blockage exceeds 50 percent.

Armstrong, 64, underwent a cardiac catheterization and stent implant Nov. 19. Mosco, 57, underwent a similar procedure Jan. 10. Bousamra, who practiced at Westmoreland for about five years, performed both procedures. Armstrong could not be reached.

Caroselli said neither plaintiff experienced medical complications. Both received a March 3 letter from Westmoreland's chief medical officer Dr. Jerome Granato, stating their procedures may have been medically unnecessary, but it did not indicate either patient's level of arterial blockage.

As a result of the stent placement, Armstrong and Mosco face increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks and prolonged use of blood thinners. Both suffered severe psychological damages, the suit says.

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