Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Taking on Big Medicine and U.S. health care with heart

The Sun’s Jay Hancock got well-deserved props in the Twitterverse Tuesday for his column on the latest in the St. Joseph Medical Center stent investigation (including praise from an old Daily Record/Maryland Business friend now at the Wall Street Journal).

Hancock revealed his star turn in some Abbott Laboratories’ e-mail correspondence subpoenaed by the Senate Finance Committee as part of its investigation into allegations that St. Joseph and Dr. Mark Midei needlessly implanted stents — metal mesh tubes, which Abbott makes, designed to prop open clogged heart arteries — in hundreds of patients. It seems an Abbott marketing exec took exception to a Hancock column on stents and asked a colleague if a “Philly” connection might be able to take him outside and, shall we say, do him bodily harm.

I won’t speak for Hancock, but this is typically a badge of honor for a newspaper columnist.

I still remember the e-mail I received from the CEO of a Fortune 500 company who took exception to my criticism. He didn’t threaten me bodily harm — not in the e-mail, anyway — but was most definitely not pleased. I offered to treat him to coffee or lunch to discuss it but he never replied.

Hancock calls the Abbott marketing exec “to ask why he seems to want goons to beat me up in the newspaper parking lot.” It all makes for an entertaining read but, more importantly, it’s a revealing glimpse into the world of Big Medicine and what comes off as a lust for profits. Huzzahs over a “30-stent day” and $1,200 outlays for barbecue just might make you second guess your doc the next time an expensive medical procedure is recommended.

That the news comes in the midst of an ongoing debate over health care reform and medical costs has prompted me to pull out once again my copy of T.R. Reid’s “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care.” And share Hancock’s concern.