Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery - News Release

Contact: Joe Martin
717-232-6787 or


Harrisburg, PA - February 26, 2015 - The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) is releasing a new report today on pediatric and congenital heart surgery—a first of its kind. While PHC4 has issued reports on adult cardiac surgery for many years, this project represents one of the few, if not only, efforts at statewide public reporting on pediatric cardiac surgery outcomes.

“This is an important initiative for patients, their families and their physicians,” said Joe Martin, PHC4’s Executive Director. “This report will provide families with a useful tool to help them determine the treatment options for their child.”

“The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is proud to have contributed to this report which makes Pennsylvania a national leader when it comes to improving health outcomes for children needing pediatric heart surgery,” stated Dr. J. William Gaynor, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Every child deserves the highest quality care available and I applaud the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons for collaborating with hospitals and surgeons in Pennsylvania and Delaware on this effort. The project began when surgeons from each of the centers approached PHC4 with the concept of a collaboration of surgeons, hospitals, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) and PHC4 to begin public reporting of outcomes for congenital heart surgery.”

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. The report, released in conjunction with American Heart Month, shows hospital-specific volume and in-hospital mortality results for the five hospitals—four in Pennsylvania and one in Delaware—that volunteered to have their data publicly reported. The data reported was provided to PHC4 by the Society of Thoracic surgeons and covers the four-year period 2009-2012, the most recent data available to PHC4.

The report provides the public with volume and in-hospital mortality data on nine widely performed heart surgeries in order to help patients and families make important treatment decisions. Nationally, mortality rates for these nine procedures vary widely from less than one percent for repair of a ventricular septal defect to more than 16 percent for the Norwood procedure, the first operation in a series of three used to treat a severe congenital defect in which the left side of the heart is underdeveloped.

In addition to data on the nine benchmark procedures, the report shows 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 6,313 pediatric and congenital heart surgeries performed in the five hospitals included in the report during the years 2009-2012. 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.