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Contact: Joe Martin 717-232-6787


Harrisburg, PA – June 14, 2017 – The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) is releasing today a hospital-specific report on pediatric and congenital heart surgery. The report represents one of a few efforts at statewide public reporting on pediatric cardiac surgery outcomes, making Pennsylvania a national leader when it comes to improving the health outcomes for children with heart disease. Affecting nearly one out of every 100 infants in the United States, congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect and the leading cause of deaths related to birth defects.

Understanding statistical significance and patient risk factors in the context of this report

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) provided the data published in this report to PHC4. The children’s hospitals included in this report currently participate in the STS data registry.

Because hospitals’ mortality rates vary, differences in mortality rates among hospitals should be interpreted carefully. Confidence intervals can assist in understanding these differences. In this report, confidence intervals are used to show the range of mortality rates that are likely to be attributable to simple random variation. Specifically, confidence intervals show whether a hospital’s mortality rate is significantly different (higher or lower) than expected after accounting for the risk of the patient. For example, if one hospital has a relatively low mortality rate and another hospital’s rate is relatively high, BUT the confidence intervals for each facility include the STS rate, then both hospitals have outcomes that are not significantly different than expected after accounting for patient risk levels. Please see pg. 6 in the report for more details.

Believing that transparency and accountability, as provided by public reporting, improves care and helps families of children facing cardiac surgery make informed decisions, surgeons and other hospital representatives joined PHC4 in developing the report. “This project is a unique collaboration among PHC4, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and the hospitals and surgeons providing care every day for the children who need pediatric heart surgery,” said Joe Martin, PHC4’s Executive Director. “The report gives families useful information to help them evaluate treatment options for their child.”

The report provides the public with volume and risk-adjusted 30-day operative mortality data on ten widely performed heart surgeries, some more complex than others. Nationally, mortality rates for these ten procedures vary widely from less than one percent for repair of a ventricular septal defect to about 15 percent for the Norwood procedure. Results account for differences in patient illness levels including age, weight and other complicating conditions.

In addition to data on the ten benchmark procedures, the report shows the total number of operations performed by each hospital, information that can be helpful in understanding a hospital’s overall experience with pediatric and congenital heart surgery. There were 6,904 pediatric and congenital heart surgeries performed among the six children’s hospitals included in the report, five in Pennsylvania (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Geisinger Medical Center Children’s Hospital, Penn State Children’s Hospital, and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children) and one in Delaware (Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children) during the years 2012-2015, the most recent data available to PHC4. The report also looks separately at outcomes for neonates, infants less than 31 days old.

PHC4 is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing, and reporting information that can be used to improve the quality and restrain the cost of health care in Pennsylvania.

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Harrisburg, PA 17101

Phone: (717) 232-6787
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