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According to recent articles in the New York Times and USA Today, "some cardiologists in the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain," Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), have been performing costly and unnecessary heart procedures, and "in some cases put patient lives at risk." HCA operates 163 facilities and has discovered "evidence as far back as 2002" indicating some heart specialists were "unable to justify" certain procedures performed on patients. Further, it appears that HCA did little to curb or stop the procedures, having knowledge that certain physicians had performed unnecessary procedures but were also continuing to do so. Not only that, it appears this conduct was concealed. This looks like fraud, among other things.

According to John Bacon’s article in USA Today, the discovery began when a nurse from the Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, Ft. Pierce, Florida, raised questions about patients who may not have had significant heart problems and were possibly undergoing unnecessary heart procedures. The cardiologists involved disagreed noting the "reviews of their work did not accurately reflect the care they provided." Thus far, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami, has requested information on HCA’s reviews of 10 of their hospitals, most of which are in Florida. The questionable heart procedures may have continued through 2010.

The remaining question is, how deep did this conduct go, beyond heart or cardiology procedures? And in how many other states? Hopefully, this is not the tip of the iceberg.

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