Florida Puts Children at Risk by Removing Surgical Standards for Pediatric Open Heart Surgery
Physicians say the standards were necessary to protect vulnerable children with heart disease.
Pediatric Cardiologists in Florida believe the state is putting children with heart defects at risk after dumping surgical standards following Tenet Healthcare’s $200,000 contribution to Republicans in the state, CNN reports.
On June 1, 2015, in the hospital with a serious heart problem video, CNN shared an investigative story on the Pediatric Heart Surgery Program at St. Mary’s Medical Center, a West Palm Beach hospital owned by Tenet Healthcare.
According to CNN, the mortality rate for babies having heart surgery at St. Mary’s Medical Center was three times the national average from 2011-2013. Consequently, on June 7th, the Florida hospital suspended elective heart surgeries on children and the CEO resigned.
Shortly after the program was suspended, the state decided to repeal the surgical standards for pediatric open heart surgery. Doctors who care for children with congenital heart disease say they’re suspicious about the timing.
David Nykanen, a pediatric cardiologist and member of the state’s Cardiac Technical Advisory Panel, points out that Scott has been in office since 2011, and his administration never objected to the standards until a Tenet hospital was publicly found not to meet them.
“The coincidence is just a little too much,” said Nykanen, co-director of the Heart Center at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando. “It’s just a little hard to swallow.”
Tenet Healthcare, who owns St. Mary’s, has reportedly contributed $200,000 to Florida GOP lawmakers, including Gov. Rick Scott, whose office has denied that the donation had an influence in changes to the 38-year uncontested policy.
A mistake in the operating room can have serious consequences for a patient and his or her family. Surgical mistakes can result in extended hospital stays, corrective surgeries, infections, permanent injuries, and sometimes even death. Florida’s removal of these standards puts children at greater risk for medical malpractice and negligence by doctors, nurses, and hospitals.
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Know Before You Go
Surgical death rates for babies with heart defects are often kept secret from parents. Parents, is your child’s hospital keeping secrets? Take a look at this chart.