Doctor Sentenced To 8 Years In Stent Case

SALISBURY — A Salisbury cardiologist convicted in July by a federal jury on six counts of health care fraud was sentenced this month to eight years in prison and will be forced to pay nearly $600,000 in restitution to the victims.

A federal jury in July convicted John R. McLean, 59, of Salisbury, on six healthcare fraud offenses in connection with a scheme during which he submitted insurance claims for inserting unnecessary cardiac stents, ordered unnecessary tests and made false entries in patient medical records in order to defraud Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers.

Back in federal court two weeks ago, McLean was sentenced to eight years in prison, followed by three years of supervised probation upon his release. U.S. District Court Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. also ordered McLean to pay $579,070 is restitution to Medicare and other health insurance programs.

According to evidence presented at trial, McLean had a private medical practice in Salisbury and hospital privileges at PRMC. From at least 2003 to 2007, McLean performed cardiac catheterizations and implanted unnecessary cardiac stents in more than 100 patients at PRMC. He then falsely recorded in the patients’ medical records the existence or extent or coronary artery blockage, known as lesions, observed during the procedures.

In addition, McLean ordered his cardiac patients undergo a battery of medically unnecessary follow-up tests such as cardiolite stress tests, echocardiograms and EKGs. McLean then submitted claims for the unnecessary stents and testing that were paid by health care benefit programs including Medicare and Medicaid.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod Rosenstein, who announced the sentencing results last week, said the charges against McLean were brought after careful consideration and investigation.

“The jury found that Dr. McLean egregiously violated the trust of his patients and made false entries in their medical records to justify implanting unneeded cardiac stents and billing for the surgery and follow-up care,” he said. “We do not bring federal prosecutions based on discretionary judgments that might be disputed by reputable medical professionals.”

Nicholas DiGuilio, special agent in charge for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General, took it a step further, saying, “Placing unnecessary stents in the hearts of patients is a crime of unthinkable proportions. A doctor who insists on practicing greed rather than good medicine will ultimately pay a heavy price.”