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Report: Open heart surgery sees downward trend

Four out of five local hospitals didn't perform enough open heart or valve surgeries in one of three categories to have full measurable patient results in 2008, a downward trend that some medical experts say could put some patients at a higher risk for complications or death.

One hospital, Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol Township, didn't perform enough cardiac surgeries to evaluate patient outcomes in three of the four categories in the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council's latest Cardiac Surgery report, which is being released today.

The new report suggests that open heart and valve surgery statewide is increasingly viewed as the last medical resort.

The average number of open heart surgeries per hospital fell from an average of 499 to 316 a year between 2000 and 2008. Among heart surgeons in the state, the average annual caseload dropped from 149 to 115 during the same time, the report found.

The number of readmissions increased in 2008 among patients who had a coronary artery bypass graft with valve surgery, and overall, about one in six open heart and/or valve surgery patients was readmitted within 30 days of discharge, the report found.

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