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NCH Receives Highest Rating for Cardiac Surgery


NCH Receives Highest Rating for Cardiac Surgery

By Elizabeth Kellar

For the second consecutive year, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) has bestowed its highest honor on the NCH Healthcare System, recognizing the work of the hospital’s surgeons and caregivers for their efforts to improve cardiac care in Southwest Florida.

The society presents adult cardiac surgery ratings through its National Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Database. Scores of participating healthcare systems are presented in tiers of 1 to 3. NCH Healthcare System earned a 3, the top score, for the period from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, indicating its program is above average.

Only about 10 percent of similar programs in the United States received a score of 3, placing NCH’s program in select company, explained Dr. Scot Schultz, chief of the cardiothoracic surgery division.

Dr. Schultz credits the entire cardiothoracic surgery team at NCH with achieving this ranking. That team includes Dr. Robert Pascotto and Dr. Dennis Stapleton as well as physician assistants Lori Katawczik, Vanessa Lluch and Paula D’Ambra.

“This was a group effort,” Dr. Schultz said. “To achieve this recognition in consecutive years confirms the consistency of excellent care being provided to patients undergoing heart surgery at NCH.”

The National Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Database tracks 11 standardized measures in four separate domains. A composite score is generated from the domains and benchmarked against national outcomes; it is estimated that the STS database tracks more than 94 percent of cardiothoracic programs in the United States.

Two of the domains, patient survival and the absence of surgical complications, reflect how patients fare and are adjusted for risk. The remaining two domains reflect how well surgeons adhere to the best-established practices. Although NCH has always maintained high-quality practices, working to achieve a 3 rating challenged the NCH cardiothoracic team to continue to improve its practices and processes, Dr. Schultz said.

The STS is partnered with Consumers Union, the publishers of Consumer Reports, to present the STS database ratings and publish the rating information in an attempt to provide the public with information on programs and surgeons, Dr. Schultz added.