updated 3/8/2007 12:54:23 PM ET 2007-03-08T17:54:23

A cardiologist resigned his staff privileges at a Maryland hospital citing vision problems after officials began investigated whether he performed unnecessary stent procedures to prop open clogged arteries.

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The doctor, John R. McLean, cited visual impairment as a disability in resigning his privileges at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Md., hospital officials said Wednesday.

A hospital review found at least 25 of McLean’s patients received arterial stents last year, even though they didn’t meet the generally accepted medical criteria for the procedures. Stents are tiny mesh-wire tubes that hold arteries open after they have been cleared of fatty deposits.

None of the patients contacted had experienced any medical complications, said Dr. Tom Lawrence, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer for PRMC.

Lawrence said American College of Cardiology guidelines generally call for stents when arterial blockages reach 70 percent; among the 25 patients in question, arterial blockages ranged from about 35 to 60 percent.

McLean did not immediately return a telephone message left Wednesday at his Salisbury office.

After hospital officials discovered the questionable procedures last fall, McLean suggested that a recently diagnosed eye problem may have caused him to misread some patients’ diagnostic images, Lawrence said. He declined to elaborate.

Lawrence also defended the hospital’s decision not to notify patients until this week, even though officials knew as early as September that there might be a problem, saying the hospital needed to investigate first.

According to the Maryland Board of Physicians’ Web site, McLean has not been the subject of any disciplinary actions or malpractice judgments within the past 10 years.

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