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WASHINGTON TERRACE, Utah (AP) -- The Ogden Regional Medical Center has suspended its cardiac surgery service in the wake of four deaths since January.
Steve Bateman, Ogden Regional administrator and chief executive officer, said the hospital took the action last week even though the deaths are within the expected mortality range for the type of surgery and severity of illness.
"Even though it's within the expected ranges, the rate is higher than we have experienced in the past," Bateman said Monday.
"In fact, for many years, the cardiovascular surgery program has shown patient mortality rates significantly lower than the national averages. We think it's only right for us to stop everything and take a look to see why the rate has changed so we are conducting an internal and external review."
He said the hospital hopes to have cardiac surgery up and running again within the next two weeks.
Bateman would not comment on the circumstance or specifics of the deaths.
"Right now, we just can't say whether there is a problem with the program. We're not even sure if a bona fide problem exists," Bateman said. "Because of the recent circumstances and observations that have been made, we have decided to take a closer look."
Bateman said that some new and different surgical techniques have been introduced since a new surgeon joined the cardiac team.
"This surgeon is highly qualified and advanced and came into our environment and tried to mix with another program. I'm not saying that this surgeon is better or worse, and I'm not certain whether the cases involved were more or less sophisticated," Bateman said. "There were just different techniques used."
Bateman said physicians whose patients need immediate surgery will determine on a case-by-case basis what options are most appropriate for their patients.
Jana Kettering, public relations officer for the Utah Department of Health, said the department applauds the hospital for taking swift action.
"To stop and take a closer look at their policies and procedures and what they are doing that is right or wrong is commendable," she said.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)