Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyers: High Mortality Rate for Pediatric Heart Surgeries

An investigation has been launched into the procedures taken at one Florida hospital, following the death of nine infants. The infants all were part of the hospital’s new pediatric open-heart surgery program. An initial probe indicated that the program had a mortality rate much higher than the national average.

Whispers about problems with St. Mary’s Medical Center’s pediatric open heart surgery program began less than a year after the program opened in late 2011. One mother, whose daughter became paralyzed after undergoing a delicate procedure to widen a narrowing in her aorta, moved her infant to another hospital 80 miles away after being told that an unusually large number of babies were having complications and many were not surviving surgeries at St. Mary’s. Fortunately, despite being paralyzed in both of her legs, her daughter is alive. Others have not been so lucky.

Florida Department of Health Recommendation is Ignored

Last year, the Florida Department of Health sent a team of expert heart doctors to review the hospital’s pediatric heart surgery program. Following that review, the head of the panel suggested that St. Mary’s stop performing the heart surgeries on babies younger than six months, noting that too few procedures were being performed for the team to develop their skills. In 2013, the hospital performed just 23 of the highly complex surgeries. This is in stark contrast to the more than 100 procedures performed at the vast majority of U.S. hospitals that specialize in this area. So far, hospital administration at St. Mary’s has ignored Florida health officials’ recommendation to close the program’s doors.

At least nine babies have died following open heart surgery performed by St. Mary’s chief pediatric heart surgeon and his team. The unofficial mortality rate for the surgeries calculated for the years 2011 – 2013 was determined to be 12.5%. That is more than three times the national pediatric open heart surgery mortality rate of 3.3%. Parents of the infants who died are understandably shocked and upset. They say they should have been told about St. Mary’s and the doctor’s success and failure rates before consenting to have their babies’ procedures performed at the hospital.

Florida does not regulate the number of procedures performed at pediatric cardiac programs and there is currently no law that requires hospitals to publicly disclose the rates of program successes and failures. Though both public and private organizations collect quality and performance data for public review, hospital participation in these initiatives is voluntary unless mandated by legislation. There are currently 109 hospitals across the country that perform pediatric open heart surgery; only 49 voluntarily report the program’s survival and mortality rates. St. Mary’ Medical Center is not one of them.

Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Those Harmed by Hospital Malpractice

If you suspect that a doctor’s mistake or hospital negligence has caused you or a loved one to suffer a serious health complication, you may be entitled to compensation. At LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, our Maryland hospital malpractice lawyers are committed to holding negligent doctors and medical facilities accountable for their harmful actions or in-actions. Call 800-547-4LAW (4529) today to schedule a free consultation or submit an online contact form. Our highly qualified Maryland medical malpractice lawyers are available to answer your questions 24 hour a day.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Maryland representing clients in Baltimore County, Baltimore City,  Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County and the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Towson, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Glen Burnie, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.