UK releases data on heart surgery program

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — The University of Kentucky has reversed course and released records showing the death rates in a children’s heart surgery program that was suspended last fall during an internal review.

The Lexington Herald-Leader ( reports UK Healthcare CEO Michael Karpf said the mortality rates were in a normal range of between 4.5 percent and 7.1 percent from 2008 to 2012. He said the overall mortality rate for the time period was 5.8 percent.

“These ranges are comparable to national mortality rates averaging 5.3 percent for programs of similar size to ours,” Karpf said.

UK Healthcare stopped performing cardiothoracic surgeries on children in December and put the program under review. The university declined to say what prompted the review and had refused to release records on the number of deaths in the program.

The release of the records on Friday came after hundreds of people signed an online petition asking that the figures be released.

Tabitha Rainey, who started the petition on, said she was still reviewing the information.

“I’m happy that they are at least trying to put something out there,” Rainey said. “I feel like some of our efforts have been effective.”

Rainey, whose son had surgery through the program, said she had been contacted by about 20 other parents who expressed concerns about it.

“Some of these cases need to be looked into,” she said.

UK spokesman Jay Blanton said the review of the program continues.

“Once the review is complete, the university will release as much data as federal and state law allow,” Blanton said via email. “It’s more important that such a process be done right than quickly.”

Karpf said in a statement that UK Healthcare is committed to “aggressive quality improvement.”

“Anytime a question is raised about a clinical program or a patient’s care, we bring all involved parties together and review the situation and circumstances in a ‘no holds barred’ manner,” Karpf said. “Sometimes we even choose to put a program on hold, until we are certain that we are doing everything necessary to provide the highest level of care. This is what we did with our pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program.”


Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,

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