PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – How well do heart surgeons perform?

Consumer Reports has released a ratings list, which ranks groups across the country as above average, average, or below average.

In southwestern Pennsylvania, three were above average: a group at Excela Health in Westmoreland County, one at Forbes Regional in Monroeville, and a group at Heritage Valley Beaver.

“I think all of these efforts are a way to look at best practices. It’s certainly kept us on our toes. In regards to making sure that attention to detail is really emphasized. Cardiac surgery success is intimately related to having a good team,” Allegheny General Hospital Heart Surgeon Dr. George Magovern said.

Five groups were average: in Butler, Dubois, Washington, Allegheny General Hospital, and St. Clair Hospital.

Information about 90 percent of the nation’s 1,100 heart surgery groups was reviewed. It was collected by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons from July of 2009 to July of 2010.

Survival and the ability to avoid complications were analyzed.

The good news is, in terms of survival, there wasn’t much difference between the best and the worst: 99 percent versus 97 percent.

More than 300 groups allow their results to be published. Some local groups aren’t on the list, even with good numbers because they feel the information can be misleading.

“So if we look superficially, you would think I will pick this group because their numbers are better, but they are not doing sick patients, so that’s very confusing,” Dr. Chong Park from Jefferson Regional Medical Center said.

To avoid complications, you can do your part, too. Being on the right medications before and after surgery can help prevent clots, abnormal heart rhythms, and high blood pressure.

Stopping smoking and controlling asthma can help reduce your risk of being on a breathing machine for a long time.


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