Community Regional Medical Center was one of two hospitals in California with a death rate from heart bypass surgery that was worse than average, according to a state report released this week.
The other California hospital to rate “worse” for deaths from the procedure was Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs.
Three other hospitals in the central San Joaquin Valley where the heart procedure is performed – Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia, Saint Agnes Medical Center and Fresno Heart & Surgical Hospital in northeast Fresno – were rated average.
The surgery is used to open blocked arteries. The state agency rated 127 hospitals that performed the surgery in 2014. The death rate included all deaths that occurred during the hospitalization and any within 30 days after the surgery.
Dr. Thomas Utecht, chief medical and quality officer for Community Medical Centers, said many quality-rating agencies use old data, which do not “adequately account for the high acuity of many of our patients at Community Regional Medical Center.” Community Medical Centers operates the regional medical center in downtown Fresno, Fresno Heart & Surgical Hospital and Clovis Community Medical Center.
The state reported that Community Regional performed 220 of the bypass procedures and had 13 deaths.
Utecht said the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, another national database, gave Community Regional an average rating for the heart procedure. But Utecht said: “This is an opportunity for improvement that our new medical director for cardiac thoracic surgery is focused on.” Community recruited Dr. Kristopher George in 2016 to open a new heart institute.
The report said the death rates were adjusted for patients’ pre-operative health conditions, and were based on 2014 data, the latest year examined by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.
According to the report – “The California Report on Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery 2013-14: Hospital and Surgeon Data” – Community Regional performed 220 of the bypass procedures and had 13 deaths. Saint Agnes performed 235 procedures and had four deaths. Kaweah Delta performed 166 procedures and had three deaths. Fresno Heart & Surgical Hospital had 139 procedures and one death.
All of the Valley hospitals were rated average for bypass surgeries that included valve replacement and for strokes after the operation.