You know Stephanie Stahl. She’s the medical reporter and sometimes investigative reporter for CBS 3 in Philadelphia, the woman who mongers fear over the perils of buying prescription drugs without a doctor, the potential for an Ebola outbreak in Philadelphia, and doctors who allegedly implant cardiac stents into patients who don’t need them. Well, the last of those stories has her being hauled into Federal Court.
“EXCLUSIVE: Philadelphia Doctor Resigns After Investigation Finds Stents In Patients That Didn’t Need Them” was her big story back in April 2013, a story about Dr. Vidya Banka, who maintained a cardiology practice at Pennsylvania Hospital from 1996 to 2012.
In her report, which came out just a few months before the American Medical Association declared that cardiac stents were among the most overused forms of medical intervention, Stahl said that Penn Medicine was notifying some patients that they may have received a heart stent that they didn’t need.
Stahl also named Banka as the doctor in question, saying that he resigned in light of the investigation. Banka told her that he did nothing wrong and that he resigned out of "respect for the administration at Pennsylvania Hospital," as she put it. Penn Medicine issued a statement saying that they had notified the U.S. Attorney and the State Board of Medicine and accepted his resignation.
Since Stahl's report, more than a dozen malpractice lawsuits have been filed against Banka in Philadelphia's Common Pleas Court. He retired from medical practice on December 31st of last year, but according to Pennsylvania's State Board of Medicine, his medical license is still current. He has never been the subject of any sanctions in Pennsylvania, and he has not been charged with a crime by the U.S. Attorney's office.
In court documents, Banka says that Stahl's statements were "made negligently and unreasonably, derogatory and with poor taste, and with reckless indifference to their truth or falsity, and were made in an inflammatory style without any independent truth." He goes on to say that the report "implied and suggested" that he was "unfit to work as a physician."
Banka is suing Stahl and CBS 3 for libel and invasion of privacy and seeks at least $450,000 in damages. CBS 3 declined to comment.