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Excela's cardiothoracic surgical program gets top rating

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By Jennifer Reeger
Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011

Excela Health's cardiothoracic surgical program is ranked among the nation's best in the latest edition of Consumer Reports after receiving a three-star rating from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons two years in a row.

The rating for the Excela Health physician practice of Cardio Thoracic Surgical Associates puts it among the top 10 percent nationally in providing coronary bypass surgery.

"We were just delighted that the Society of Thoracic Surgeons gave us their highest rating based on our outcomes, based on our technique based on our expected mortality," said Dr. Jerome E. Granato, senior vice president for medical affairs and chief medical officer at Excela Health. "While our program is not gigantic, the several hundred patients that have open heart surgery here each year are well taken care of."

Excela Health CardioThoracic Surgical Associates includes Dr. Mark M. Suzuki and Dr. David M. West, both cardiothoracic surgeons. Other members of the practice are Dr. Lana Y. Schumacher, a thoracic surgeon, and Dr. Lawrence R. Sowka, a vascular surgeon.

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons worked with Consumer Reports to publish ratings of heart-surgery groups in the area of bypass operations to provide prospective patients with a way to see how these groups compare with national benchmarks for overall performance, survival and complications.

The society represents about 5,400 surgeons worldwide who operate on the thorax, or chest. Its Adult Cardiac Surgery Database includes more than 4 million surgical records from about 90 percent of the more than 1,100 surgical groups in the United States that perform cardiac surgery.

Participating groups add data to the registry four times a year. Consumer Reports published the ratings of 323 groups from 44 states and Washington that agreed to have their results made public.

Of those 323 groups, 81 received three stars for overall performance, the highest rating.

"The comparison here is not against our neighbors. The comparison is against programs through the nation," Granato said.

The ratings use 11 standardized measures endorsed by the National Quality Forum, a nonprofit that establishes national health care standards. Those measures fall into four broad categories -- recommended medications and optimal surgical technique, which reflect how well surgeons adhere to best practices, and patient survival and absence of surgical complications, which measure how patients fare.

Granato said having such a quality program locally is a boon for patients, many of whom are senior citizens who prefer not to travel long distances.

"They can have this kind of national caliber work in their back yard and really save them from the hassles of looking for parking, getting through traffic, having to go through all of the challenges of a big-city excursion," Granato said. "It provides them with excellent care. They are getting a quality product they can get at any one of the national centers, and they can get it right down the road from home."

Additional Information:

Three stars

Excela Health's physician practice of Cardio Thoracic Surgical Associates was one of 81 such medical groups to be awarded the highest three-star rating for quality by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and Consumer Reports. Other three-star rated practices include ones affiliated with the following hospitals:

• Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.

• Boston Medical Center, Boston.

• Missouri Baptist Medical Center, St. Louis.

• Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, N.Y.

• Washington Hospital Center, Washington

• Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center, Santa Clara, Calif.

• George Washington University Hospital, Washington

• Lenox Hill Hospital, New York.

• Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

• Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, N.C.



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