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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
June 22, 2005

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Gretchen Michael or Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160

New Jersey’s Cardiac Surgery Mortality Rate Declines More than 50 Percent Since 1994


           TRENTONNew Jersey’s mortality rate following cardiac surgery has been cut by more than half in nine years, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. announced today in releasing Cardiac Surgery in New Jersey 2002: A Consumer Report.

Based on risk-adjusted data, the patient mortality rate has declined 53 percent between 1994 and 2002.

“This is great news for consumers and a clear example of how public reporting of performance data can improve health care quality,” Commissioner Jacobs said.  “These results are also a tribute to the hospitals and surgeons who have worked so hard to make their cardiac surgery programs safer.  Hundreds of lives have been saved over the years as a result.”

          The Commissioner was joined by Dr. Charles Dennis, Chairman of the Department of Health and Senior Services’ Cardiovascular Health Advisory Panel (CHAP), a 17-member group of cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and consumers that provides expert advice on issues concerning cardiac health care services. 

“The results achieved in this report reflect the concerted effort made by New Jersey’s cardiac surgery centers to improve quality.  My colleagues on the CHAP and I have been very pleased to collaborate with the department over the past decade in publishing performance data that is both reliable and risk-adjusted,” said Dr. Dennis, who is also Chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Diseases at the Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills.

In evaluating performance, the department examined 30-day mortality rates for patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery.  Thirty-day mortality includes deaths during the hospitalization in which the surgery was performed, or deaths after discharge but within 30 days of surgery, whichever comes later.

The report includes performance data on individual cardiac surgeons as well as each of the 17 hospitals performing cardiac surgery in 2002.  Atlantic City Medical Center, which was licensed to perform cardiac surgery in August 2001, is included in the report for the first time.

All data are risk-adjusted to allow fair comparisons among hospitals and surgeons treating diverse patient populations.  In effect, risk adjustment gives "extra credit" to hospitals and physicians treating sicker patients.  Some conditions considered in adjusting the data include kidney failure, stroke, or previous open heart surgery.

         According to the report released today, there were 7,391 isolated bypass procedures in 2002 and 159 deaths within 30 days.  New Jersey’s statewide 30-day mortality rate was 2.15 percent in 2002, a decrease from 2001 when the rate was 2.51.

Sixteen hospitals had rates that were statistically the same as the statewide average. Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden had a risk-adjusted mortality rate that was significantly higher than the statewide average.  No hospital had a rate significantly below average.

The report also includes individual performance data for 55 surgeons who performed at least 100 procedures in one hospital in 2001 and 2002 combined.

Two surgeons who no longer perform cardiac surgery in New Jersey had mortality rates significantly higher than the statewide average.  The remaining surgeons had rates that were statistically the same as the statewide average.

To get a clearer picture of statewide performance over the years, the department analyzed nine years of data and risk-adjusted them to account for changes over time in the overall patient population.   Generally speaking, patients in more recent years have had risk factors that increase their risk of dying. 

That analysis shows the death rate has dropped by 53 percent - from 4.49 in 1994 to 2.11 in 2002.

New Jersey is one of five states to measure and report on cardiac surgery outcomes; New York, Pennsylvania, California and Massachusetts are the other four.  And New Jersey is one of only two states, along with Pennsylvania, to examine 30-day mortality.  

           The consumer report and a companion technical report are available on the department’s web site, .  Reports may also be obtained by calling 1-800-418-1397, or by writing to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Office of Health Care Quality Assessment, P.O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625.

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