Hospital readmissions after heart surgery rise

More than one in six patients who had open heart surgery in Pennsylvania in 2008 – 2,208 patients – were readmitted to the hospital within a month of their initial discharge, according to the latest cardiac surgery report by an independent state agency.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council’s 2008 cardiac surgery report provided a detailed examination of the outcomes of heart patients at hospitals and surgeons across the state. The report, which examined heart bypass and valve repair and replacement procedures, enables patients and their families to compare hospitals based on objective measures of quality.

The report found that readmissions after open heart surgery resulted in more than 11,000 additional days spend in hospitals for those patients and charges totaling more than $81 million.

“This illustrates why the medical community, researchers and policymakers are focused on identifying the causes of readmissions and implementing evidence-based strategies to reduce those that are preventable,” said Joe Martin, the executive director of the council, commonly known as PHC4.

Carolyn F. Scanlan, president of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, which represents the state’s hospitals, said, “patients are encouraged to use the data in this report to discuss their options with their physicians as they seek the highest-quality cardiac surgery.”

Still, medical experts caution that the report can provide a jumping off point for discussions with cardiologists and heart surgeons about quality. To check out the report, go to the council’s website or to use the agency’s interactive database that enables you to compare selected hospitals click here.

To check out more Check Up items go to