King's Daughters, physician named in lawsuits
CATLETTSBURG, Ky. -- More than 500 people have filed suit against King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland and Dr. Richard Paulus alleging they performed unnecessary cardiac procedures, including coronary angioplasty, stenting and coronary artery bypass grafts and pacemaker and defibrillator implantation.
Two civil lawsuits with 515 plaintiffs were filed Tuesday in Boyd County Circuit Court. The cases were filed by The Poppe Law Firm in Louisville and William H. Wilhoit of Grayson, Ky. The suits were assigned to Judge C. David Hagerman.
"This case arises out of the pattern and practice by defendants of performing, allowing to perform and billing for medically unnecessary and harmful" heart procedures, according to one of the suits.
The medical center's cardiology service and certain physicians currently are under investigation by the United States Department of Justice for participating in and facilitating the performance of unnecessary cardiac procedures, according to a lawsuit.
The suits claim the defendants routinely misrepresented patients' cardiac conditions in order to justify the procedures. The alleged overstating of the extent of disease allows the defendants to bill health care providers, federal and state governments and patients for hundreds of unnecessary procedures, according to the complaints.
"I have every confidence we will be able to get past the rough spots," Kristie Whitlatch, King's Daughters president and chief executive officer, said Wednesday in a letter to the community. "We depend on our community and our community depends on King's Daughters. I hope we all agree King's Daughters is an amazing community resource worth protecting. I plan to do just that."
She was named president and chief executive office about three months ago, replacing Fred Jackson.
"We believe the large number of plaintiffs is for a 'shock factor' to get attention," she said in the letter. "The claims are vague and cover a wide range of tests and procedures. While we never want our patients to be unhappy with their care, from my perspective, we leave the lawsuits for the lawyers and ask our team to concentrate on providing the best patient care possible, one patient at a time."
The complaints also allege King's Daughters has not provided a vast majority of plaintiffs with complete copies of their medical records and cardiology films.
While not all the plaintiffs received treatment from Paulus, all of them received care and treatment at King's Daughters, according to a suit.
Some of the patients died, according to a suit.
The suits seek an unspecified amount of alleged compensatory and punitive damages, court costs, attorney fees, interest and jury trials.
A lawsuit outlines the grievance of one party against another. It does not establish guilt or innocence.
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