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For Release:
December 16, 2003

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner

Fifth Cardiac Surgery Report Card Shows Continued Decline in Mortality Rates


TRENTON – Cardiac surgery mortality rates in New Jersey continued to decline in 2000, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. announced today in releasing New Jersey’s latest cardiac surgery report card. 


As one of only four states to measure and report cardiac surgery outcomes and one of only two states to examine 30-day mortality, New Jersey is a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of cardiac surgery care.  The report card is one of New Jersey’s key initiatives to promote health care quality for the state’s consumers.


“The cardiac surgery report card allows hospitals to assess their performance against that of their peers.  Public reporting also helps consumers make informed choices about cardiac surgery,” Dr. Lacy said.  “The cardiac surgery report card is a tool consumers can use, along with their physician’s recommendation, in making decisions about where to have their surgery.”


Based on risk-adjusted data, New Jersey’s mortality rates have declined nearly 39 percent since 1994-95.  This is the lowest rate since the state began publishing these reports.  Cardiac Surgery in New Jersey in 2000: A Consumer Report outlines statewide performance, as well as data for individual surgeons and for the 15 hospitals performing cardiac surgery in 2000.  New York, Pennsylvania and California are the other three states that publish cardiac surgery report cards.


 This is New Jersey’s fifth cardiac surgery report card.  The 2000 report differs from earlier reports because it includes all deaths within 30 days of surgery, even if the patient died after discharge from the hospital.  Previous report cards included only in-hospital deaths.  Pennsylvania is the only other state that reports on 30-day mortality.


After consulting with the Commissioner’s Cardiovascular Health Advisory Panel (CHAP), the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services changed the mortality definition to remove the potential for hospital discharge practices to affect assessment of performance.  Statewide rates from previous years were recalculated using the new definition to enable year-to-year trend analysis.


According to the report released today, New Jersey’s statewide operative mortality rate for isolated bypass surgery was 2.68 percent in 2000, compared with 3.31 in 1999.  In 1994-95, the time period covered by the first report card, the rate was 4.14 percent.


To measure historical performance, rates from all years must be pooled and risk-adjusted to account for changing characteristics of the patient population over time.   The risk-adjusted rate in 1994 was 4.46 percent, compared with 2.74 in 2000 – for a decline of 39 percent.   The decline from 1999 (when the rate was 3.04) to 2000 was 10 percent, which is not considered statistically significant.


The fifth report includes statewide and hospital-by-hospital data based on 8,220 bypass procedures.  There were 220 deaths within 30 days, or within the same hospitalization even if it extended beyond 30 days. This year’s report also includes surgeon-specific performance data for 38 surgeons who performed at least 100 procedures in one hospital during the report year.   


Fourteen hospitals had rates that were statistically the same as the statewide average. One hospital – UMDNJ-University Hospital  – had a risk-adjusted mortality rate that was significantly higher than the state average.   The department noted that, since 2000, University has completely revamped its program and has a new surgical team.


One surgeon at Hackensack University Medical Center had a significantly lower mortality rate than the statewide average.  The remaining surgeons had rates that were statistically the same as the statewide average.


“Through our close collaboration over the years, the Cardiovascular Health Advisory Panel and the department have developed a report card that is an important tool for promoting quality cardiac surgery around the state,” said Dr. Charles Dennis, CHAP Chairman and Chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Diseases at Deborah Heart and Lung Center.


The CHAP is a 20-member group of cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, hospital officials, and consumers that provides expert advice to the department on cardiovascular health issues, including technical matters relating to the release of the cardiac surgery report card.


The report is available on the department’s web site,, or may be obtained by calling 1-888-393-1062.


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