According to a new report released Thursday by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, in hospital patient mortality for bypass patients declined in Pennsylvania in 2006 to its lowest in a decade. Mortality rates following coronary artery bypass graft surgery dropped from 1.90 % in 2005 to a record-low 1.77 % in 2006, and bypass patient readmission rates also declined between 2005 and 2006.
Since 1992 when PHC4 began publicly reporting on heart bypass surgery, the mortality rate is the lowest posted by Pennsylvania hospitals. The PHC4 study also reported that surgeons and hospitals are performing fewer open-heart bypass surgeries, due to increasing treatments such as therapeutic angioplasty for heart patients. The average number of cases per surgeon reduced from 149 in 2000 to 121 in 2005 and to 114 in 2006 while the average number of open heart procedures per hospital came down from 499 in 2000 to 346 in 2005 and to 330 in 2006. Patient readmission rates following CABG surgery also showed decline from 13.3 % in 2000 to 10.7 % 2006.
David Kreider, the council's chairman said, "It is more evidence that the process of public reporting works." The council is an agency that monitors hospital finances and performance, and has published annual reports on bypass surgeries since 1992 adding information on heart-valve procedures last year. Gov. Ed Rendell issued an executive order in July authorizing the continuation of PHC4, which is set to expire on Nov. 30.
Lobbying for the reauthorization of the council is Carolyn F. Scanlan, president and chief executive officer of the Hospital Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, a trade group based in Harrisburg. "PHC4 has been a leader in hospital data collection and public reporting for more than two decades," Scanlan said. "Data from PHC4, on subjects ranging from cardiac surgery to hospital finances to health care-associated infections, is useful for patients and hospitals, and it is critical that PHC4's work continue."
A policy showdown between Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell and Republican lawmakers over expanding state-subsidized health insurance to uninsured adults resulted in the council being shut down for a brief while in July. An executive order that expires Nov. 30, the end of the current legislative session revived it temporarily.
Scanlan said, "The good news ... is that current medical approaches to cardiac care are reducing the need for surgery for many patients and that for patients who will need surgical care, the quality of that surgery continues to improve." She also urged state lawmakers to pass legislation to reauthorize the council as soon as possible.