A new report finds that your chances of surviving heart surgery and staying out of the hospital keep improving in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council looked at 20,000 heart surgery patients in hospitals across the state in 2012. It found that the death rate and the risk of ending up back in the hospital within a month, continued to drop last year.
In our area, the rate of death for heart bypass, was no higher than expected at UPMC Altoona, Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center and Dubois Regional Medical Center. Altoona and Memorial both had acceptable mortality rates for valve replacement as well. DRMC's figures weren't available.
UPMC Altoona had a higher than expected number of valve replacement patients readmitted to the hospital within a month of surgery. Senior Vice President Quality/Medical Affairs Dr. Linnane Batzel said, "it's hard for me to say exactly why that number came out a little high. These are sick patients though and I think we're showing an abundance of caution by bringing them back into the hospital whenever we have any concern about them at all."
Dr. Batzel also pointed out that the heart surgeon who does most of these procedures, had an acceptable number of readmissions.
Still she says the hospital recently made changes to its heart surgery program. She explained, "we work with our new intensive caregroup to change the post operative medications to help those patients get off the ventilators quick and more easily."
The state report also looked at hospital charges for heart surgery. They range from about $70,000 to a little over $100,000 in our region and up to $375,000 in Pittsburgh.
However, there's not such a wide range in what Medicare paid hospitals for these procedures. You can find the complete report which includes doctors' evaluations at www.phc4.org.