Philadelphia Hospital Declines to Perform Elective Cardiac Surgeries
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Jun 07, 2016
St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in North Philadelphia recently announced that it would cease performing elective heart surgeries pending the outcome of an internal review. The reason for the internal review was not immediately clear. The hospital did indicate, however, that it would continue performing emergency cardiac procedures.
St. Christopher’s Ongoing Woes
This announcement from St. Christopher’s is bound to raise some eyebrows given the hospital’s (and its Dallas-based owner) troubles over the past several years. Some of these included:
- Thanks to an investigation by CNN, a Florida hospital owned by the same company as St. Christopher’s was determined to have an elevated rate of mortality and a state investigation found numerous deficiencies with the hospital. The Florida hospital eventually shut down its pediatric heart-surgery program.
- Last year St. Christopher’s declined to participate in a state-wide review of Pennsylvania hospitals that perform pediatric heart surgeries. St. Christopher’s was the only hospital out of five to decline to participate.
- A whistleblower who worked at St. Christopher’s came forward in 2012 and declared that between 2007 and 2009 ten patients undergoing heart procedures either died or suffered serious neurological damage as a result of inadequate care;
- In 2011 and 2012, two children died due to alleged mistakes committed by hospital workers: in the first instance, it is alleged that the child was given too much calcium which caused the child to go into cardiac arrest. In the 2012 incident, it is alleged that there were multiple mistakes that culminated in the child going into cardiac arrest, including nurses’ failures to warn doctors about a dangerous drop in the child’s blood pressure over the course of three hours.
Is St. Christopher’s Troubles Due to a Lack of Experience?
According to Philly.com, St. Christopher’s performs approximately 50 to 60 open-heart surgery procedures each year. This number pales in comparison to other hospitals in the Philadelphia area – for example, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia performs between 500 to 600 open-heart surgery procedures every year – approximately ten times the number of procedures performed by St. Christopher’s.
Philly.com goes on to state that studies show the more a particular doctor and/or hospital staff performs a certain surgery or procedure, the better they become at performing that surgery or procedure safely. This increases the chances of a good outcome for the patient. Perhaps some of St. Christopher’s troubles are due to the lack of experience that its doctors and staff have in performing these complicated surgeries. (Interestingly enough, the Florida hospital mentioned above only performed about 24 open-heart surgery procedures each year.)
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