The Oklahoma City VA Medical Center has temporarily suspended its cardiac surgery program, citing deaths over the past year that prompted the VA office in Washington, D.C., to request a review of the program, officials said this week.
“We are taking a brief pause in our cardiac program while we have an outside review from central office,” said Dr. Mark Huycke, the chief of staff at the Oklahoma City VA. “We expect that review to occur later this month, and I fully anticipate the program will get restarted.”
Huycke said during an interview that he didn’t have the information in front of him to cite the number of deaths.
About 12 to 15 patients will be affected by the closure, Huycke said.
Patients who need surgery will either be referred to the Houston VA medical center or will get care at a non-VA hospital. The closure will affect patients, for example, who suffer from coronary artery disease and need surgery, Huycke said.
The hospital will continue to perform stent surgeries, a surgery performed by interventional radiologists who place a small mesh tube known as a stent in an artery. Stents can restore blood flow to narrow or blocked arteries, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Gina Jackson, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said Oklahoma City VA leadership, along with regional network leadership, were informed Monday of a patient death following cardiac surgery.
“Out of an abundance of caution, (they) decided to pause cardiac surgeries while an external team performs an evaluation of the program,” Jackson said.
Huycke said his staff has reviewed all the cases that are being investigated and has found no issues with the care delivered to patients.
“Just based on the number of cases, central office told us they would like to do a review. This is a routine review that sometimes occurs at facilities, and we look forward to the review,” he said.
No staff member has been fired or put on leave as a result of the review, Huycke said.
“I know all of the cases and have not found problems with the care delivered,” he said.