Pennsylvania's Guide to Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery 2003 - News Release


Contact: Joe Martin, Communications Director
717-232-6787 or


Harrisburg, PA - March 11, 2005 - Patient in-hospital mortality rates following coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery in Pennsylvania remained steady at 2% between 2002 and 2003, according to a report released today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). The report also noted that infection and heart failure were the top two causes for readmission following bypass surgery and that as a group, high volume surgeons generally have lower patient mortality rates than those doing fewer procedures.

"Pennsylvanians are in good hands when it comes to open heart surgery," stated Marc P. Volavka, PHC4's Executive Director. "Mortality rates continue at low levels for patients experiencing coronary artery bypass graft surgery."

Pennsylvania's Guide to Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery 2003, PHC4's eighth report on heart bypass surgery, includes information on 15,117 CABG surgeries performed in Pennsylvania hospitals in 2003 at an average charge of over $92,000. For each hospital and surgeon performing CABG surgery, the report provides information on the number of cases, in-hospital mortality, 30-day mortality, 7-day and 30-day readmission rates, and post-surgical length of stay.

When examining all open-heart surgeries, the average number of cases per hospital decreased from 408 in 2002 to 390 in 2003 (a decline of 4.4%). The average number per surgeon remained relatively the same – about 130 cases per surgeon.

Patients treated by surgeons who performed 200 to 250 surgeries were twice as likely to survive after bypass surgery as patients of surgeons with less than 100 procedures per year. In general, patients treated by surgeons with higher volume had shorter post-surgical lengths of stay.

Readmissions presented a mixed picture as the 7-day readmission rate dropped 4.7 percent over 2002 figures but the 30-day readmission rate increased by 5 percent over the same period. Readmissions within 30 days for infections amounted to nearly $17 million in hospital charges and 3,400 hospital days. Readmissions within 30 days for heart failure amounted to $7.6 million in hospital charges and 1,700 hospital days.

"Readmissions, particularly those associated with infection, provide tremendous opportunities for quality improvement and cost containment," said Mr. Volavka. "A heightened emphasis on reducing infections will produce savings for purchasers and providers, and improved quality of care for patients."

Hospital charges for bypass surgery are also reported. Charges have increased by 43% over the last four years, slightly less than average charges overall, which increased 45% during the same period.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information that can be used to make more informed decisions, thereby improving the quality and restraining the cost of health care in Pennsylvania. Copies of the report are free and can be ordered by calling PHC4 at 717-232-6787 or can be downloaded from PHC4's website at