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Study cites coronary bypass death rates

January 09, 2008|Mary Engel | Times Staff Writer

Three hospitals in Los Angeles County -- County-USC Medical Center, Citrus Valley Medical Center/Inter-Community Campus in Covina and Torrance Memorial Medical Center -- had the highest mortality rates in California for coronary bypass surgery in 2005, according to a statewide analysis scheduled to be released today.

The report rates hospitals using a formula that adjusts for factors that can increase the risk that a patient will die, such as age, gender, co-existing medical conditions and prior heart surgeries.

The mortality rate statewide was 3.08%. Risk-adjusted rates ranged from 0% to 11.49% -- the rate for County-USC.

The analysis, conducted by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, is intended to provide guidance to Californians seeking treatment for heart disease.

Healthcare experts call this type of public reporting one of the most inexpensive and effective incentives for hospitals to improve patient care.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, January 11, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 76 words Type of Material: Correction
Heart bypass: An article in Wednesday's California section about 2005 heart bypass mortality rates at California hospitals stated that Alta Bates Summit Medical Center-Summit Campus in Oakland had had higher than average mortality rates in a 2000-02 state report. The Summit Campus -- known as Summit Medical Center in the earlier report, before it merged with the Berkeley-based Alta Bates Medical Center -- had lower than average mortality rates in both the 2000-02 and 2005 reports.

Two of the California hospitals with mortality rates that were lower than the state average in the report -- Alta Bates Summit Medical Center-Summit Campus in Oakland and Lakewood Regional Medical Center in Los Angeles County -- had rates that were higher than average in 2000-02 and 2003-04, respectively.

"This may be indicative of the type of effect that we hope to see from these reports," said Dr. David M. Carlisle, director of the state's health planning office.

On the other hand, the risk-adjusted mortality rate at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, which was lower than the state average in 2000-02 was reported to be higher in 2005. Hospital administrators said 2005 was an anomaly.

"Torrance Memorial has consistently performed very well in heart surgery mortality studies," said Dr. Mark Lurie, medical director of the hospital's cardiology program development. "In the most recent two years, our in-hospital coronary artery bypass graft surgery mortality rate was very low, and, in fact, was '0' in 2007."

Torrance Memorial's 2005 risk-adjusted mortality rate was 8.21%. The 2005 rate for Citrus-Valley Medical Center-Inter-Community Campus was 8.34%.

California lags some other states in publicizing hospitals' safety and surgical success rates. It has issued reports on hospital death rates for bypass surgery, heart attacks and pneumonia. By comparison, Pennsylvania reports each year how effectively its hospitals treat blood clots, heart and kidney failure, strokes, hip fractures and 14 other ailments.

And unlike 19 other states, California does not require hospitals to reveal how many patients contract a healthcare- associated infection, one of the country's biggest killers.

Ratings for the 120 hospitals in California that performed coronary artery bypass surgery in 2005 are available on the health planning office's website,


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