April 30, 2007 — Virginia consumers can now find out the latest about how well their local hospitals perform in handling heart care — a new Virginia Health Information's (VHI's) report includes information on medical care for conditions like angina, heart attack and heart failure. Invasive procedures including cardiac catheterization, angioplasty (usually with stents to prop up arteries) and open heart surgery such as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery and cardiac valve operations.
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in Virginia and the number one reason people are admitted to the hospital.
National studies conclude that hospitals and doctors performing more heart surgery often have lower mortality rates. Mortality information includes the rate of death for patients hospitalized. Each hospital's mortality rate includes a symbol noting if their rate is less, the same or more than expected for similar patients across the state.
Virginia mortality rates are decreasing. From 2003 to 2005, mortality rates for all cardiac care decreased by 12.1 percent.
"We first published this report in 2002. Since then there's been a growing interest in this information from consumers and hospitals," said Michael Lundberg, VHI's executive director.
Hospitals are also joining state and national programs to improve heart care.
Thirty-day readmission rates show how often patients returned to a hospital for complications or other related care. Heart failure was the most common reason for readmission. For open heart surgery and invasive cardiology, infections and other complications were also frequent reasons for readmission.
Lowering readmission rates is important. When cardiac care patients were readmitted they:
• Had a 26 percent higher mortality rate
• Were in a hospital for an average of 6 days longer
• Averaged $31,719 more in hospital charges
VHI's report takes into account hospitals that care for sicker patients that are more likely to die or be readmitted. Ramesh K. Shukla, Ph.D. of the VCU Department of Health Administration led the effort to guide the development of a scientific methodology to fairly compare hospitals. Visitors can also find physicians by city or county treating heart patients. The report includes physician names, contact information, education, hospital affiliation, and foreign languages spoken.
Virginia Health Information (VHI) is the nonprofit organization that the Commonwealth of Virginia, businesses and other organizations go to for consumer and other health information. Cardiac Care information is free to the public and may be found at www.vhi.org. For those without Internet access, VHI will mail information to those that call 1-877-VHI- hospitals nursing facilities, physicians and other topics at, HMOs,