Michigan Vascular Clinics Shutting Down After Scrutiny

A doctor who called himself the “leg saver” is shutting down his vascular clinics in Michigan, where he performed thousands of lucrative procedures that have come under scrutiny for being unnecessary and potentially dangerous.

The doctor, Jihad Mustapha, was featured in a New York Times investigation last year about the increased use of the procedures, which have harmed patients even as they have enriched doctors and the device companies that sell the products they use.

Earlier this month, patients received a letter from the staff of Dr. Mustapha’s clinic, Advanced Cardiac & Vascular Centers, informing them that the business, which has clinics in Grand Rapids and Lansing, was closing and advising them to find new doctors. The letter, which did not outline the reason for the closing, said that Dr. Mustapha had already begun working at a practice in Ocala, Fla. His partner and nephew, Dr. Fadi Saab, is relocating to a cardiology practice in Dearborn, Mich., the letter said.

Dr. Mustapha and Dr. Saab didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Dr. Mustapha is a prominent player in a booming industry that targets the roughly 12 million Americans with peripheral artery disease, in which plaque builds up in arteries, clogging the flow of blood. He was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by device manufacturers to conduct clinical trials, train other doctors and speak about their products, according to a federal database of industry payments to doctors.

The volume of one of these procedures, called the atherectomy, has more than doubled in the past decade, according to an analysis of Medicare payment data.

Dr. Mustapha and Dr. Saab together billed Medicare for more than 2,600 atherectomies between 2018 and 2021, the Times analysis found. Those procedures earned their clinics almost $18 million from Medicare alone.

State health authorities found that Dr. Mustapha performed dozens of unnecessary procedures on patients, including some who eventually lost their legs. And an insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, reported that 45 people had lost limbs after treatment at his clinics over four years.

In response to The Times’s investigation last year, Dr. Mustapha and Dr. Saab defended their treatment of the seriously ill patients who they said formed the bulk of their practice. Dr. Mustapha said the vast majority of the people he treats have “exceptional outcomes.”

After The Times published its article, Dr. Mustapha sued one of the vascular surgeons who had reported his practices to the state’s licensing board. In the defamation lawsuit, Dr. Mustapha said he lost his malpractice insurance coverage and “certain medical privileges” at two Michigan hospital systems. His lawsuit, which is still pending, also said he “struggled to maintain relationships” with insurers like Aetna, Blue Cross and Cigna.

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