St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, has suspended elective pediatric heart surgeries after a CNN investigation calculated that the program had a mortality rate for open heart surgeries three times higher than the national average.
A press release issued by the hospital late Sunday night said they were launching a “comprehensive review” of the program involving external experts.
“We currently have no elective pediatric congenital cardiac surgery cases scheduled, and we do not intend to schedule any until we have completed our review,” the hospital stated in the press release.
The hospital did not define “elective,” and did not say how long they anticipate their internal review to take, or who would be conducting it.
“I’m so happy,” said Nneka Campbell, whose ten-month-old baby, Amelia, died after open heart surgery at St. Mary’s in 2012. “This is a victory for every baby. I’m grateful that more babies don’t have to die at St. Mary’s.”
CNN’s story about the program, where at least nine babies have died since 2011 following open heart surgery, has spurred a federal probe into the hospital by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Most of the babies in the hospital’s open heart surgery program have been Medicaid recipients, according to data the hospital submitted to the state of Florida.
The hospital continued to do surgeries on babies under six months old even after they were advised to stop last year by the chairman of a state-sponsored expert panel that reviewed the program