VA heart program in Oklahoma City temporarily closed after five deaths since October

Five patients at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center have died since October within 30 days of their surgeries, prompting the temporary closure of the hospital’s heart surgery program until a federal review is complete.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: June 24, 2014 at 6:00 pm •  Published: June 23, 2014
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Five heart patients at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center died within 30 days of their surgeries, prompting the temporary closure of the hospital’s heart surgery program until a federal review is complete.

The deaths have been reported since October.

Dr. Mark Huycke, the chief of staff at the hospital, said in an email that expert reviews of recent deaths after heart surgery have been completed with “no concerns identified.”

“The cardiac surgery program is expected to resume full operations once the review is completed,” he said. “The VA takes pride in ensuring veterans receive top quality healthcare. This type of clinical review is a normal oversight function within the VA.”

The Oklahoma City VA Medical Center’s heart surgery program was halted in early June after hospital leaders and leaders from the regional VA network learned of a patient death following surgery, a spokeswoman with the federal VA said.

A total of 58 heart surgeries have been completed during the 2014 fiscal year, from October 2013 through this month, with five patients who died within 30 days of their surgeries.

Huycke said it’s difficult to assess expected mortality rates for cardiac cases, but he and an outside reviewer have looked at each of the five cases, he said. Neither found evidence of inappropriate care, he said.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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