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Researchers find poor use of pumps for ailing hearts

New York Times, November 26, 2008

A study finds high death rates, repeat hospital stays, and soaring medical bills among Medicare patients who have mechanical pumps placed in their chests to help their failing hearts. Despite their great promise, the devices are being used too often in the wrong patients and at the wrong hospitals—in people who are too sick to benefit, and at hospitals that do not treat enough patients to gain the expertise needed for their complex care—the researchers say. The pumps, known as ventricular assist devices, or VADs, were introduced in the 1990s and are used for several reasons.