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Valley Hospital Gets Lower Rankings in State Report

Valley Presbyterian Hospital was one of four California hospitals to rank below the state average in a study on mortality rates related to heart bypass surgery in 2007, a recently released report said. However, the hospital has made several developments in its services for coronary artery bypass graft surgery patients in the past three years since the data was collected, said officials from the Van Nuys-based hospital. The report, which covered 121 California-licensed hospitals, was released by the state’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. In California, there were 347 operative deaths among 14,756 isolated coronary artery bypass graft surgeries, setting the state’s mortality rate for the surgeries at 2.35 percent. While the rate is higher than the 2.2 percent rate in 2006, it is 19 percent lower than the 2.9 percent rate in 2003, the first year of mandated public reporting. While no hospital performed significantly better than the state average, four hospitals performed worse, even with adjustments included for hospitals with sicker patients than average. Valley Presbyterian, one of the four hospitals that performed worse, had four deaths from 31 isolated coronary artery bypass graft cases for a mortality rate of 12.9 percent. The other three hospitals that ranked below the state average included Los Angeles County’s Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Enloe Medical Center in Northern California and St. Joseph’s Medical Center of Stockton. However, since 2007, Valley Presbyterian Hospital has had major improvements in its mortality rate related to the surgeries, said Julie Reback, the hospital’s vice present of business development. In California, there were 347 operative deaths among 14,756 isolated coronary artery bypass graft surgeries, setting the state’s mortality rate for the surgeries at 2.35 percent. While the rate is higher than the 2.2 percent rate in 2006, it is 19 percent lower than the 2.9 percent rate in 2003, the first year of mandated public reporting. While no hospital performed significantly better than the state average, four hospitals performed worse, even with adjustments included for hospitals with sicker patients than average. Valley Presbyterian, one of the four hospitals that performed worse, had four deaths from 31 isolated coronary artery bypass graft cases for a mortality rate of 12.9 percent. The other three hospitals that ranked below the state average included Los Angeles County’s Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Enloe Medical Center in Northern California and St. Joseph’s Medical Center of Stockton. However, since 2007, Valley Presbyterian Hospital has had major improvements in its mortality rate related to the surgeries, said Julie Reback, the hospital’s vice present of business development. In 2008, the hospital reduced deaths of heart bypass surgery patients by half, and there were no such deaths in 2009 or so far this year, Reback said. The hospital has also made other changes. “We have obtained new equipment – a heart and lung machine, which is critical for those procedures,” she said. “We’ve brought in a dedicated cardiac anesthesiologist. We have focused on education and teaching of our staff in post-operative care of (coronary artery bypass graft) patients in our ICU.” The hospital also opened its Fritz B. Burns Valley Cardiac Cath Lab in 2008. State officials explained why they are just now releasing 2007 information. There is usually a two-year gap between the year from which the data is collected and the year it is published. That is because officials must wait for the state’s death registry to be released, which normally takes about a year and nine months. Then there is a 60-day review period when state officials have to confirm the data. This year, the process took three years. “This year, we’re a little later than usual for various reasons, probably including the state budget issues,” said Joseph Parker, manager of the state office’s Healthcare Outcome Center, which oversees the report. “You can’t ignore the fact that there have been state furloughs in place.” Parker said the office plans to catch up to its two-year span by publishing its 2008 report within the next six months.

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