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Countywide : Hoag Rated No. 1 in Open-Heart Cases

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach had the lowest overall mortality rate and lowest fees of the 10 Orange County hospitals that performed open-heart surgery on Medicare patients over a four-year period, according to a report released Tuesday by a private consulting firm.

Hoag’s mortality rates and charges also were lower than state and national averages, according to Healthcare Data Source, which released the report.

The Aurora, Colo., company based its findings on Medicare data provided by the federal Health Care Financing Administration from 1990 to 1993. The study included every Medicare patient in the county who underwent open-heart surgery.

“We’re elated to hear this news,” said Aidan Raney, Hoag’s director of cardiac surgery. “I attribute it to our dedicated staff of surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists. We’ve worked hard to have controlled costs without compromising quality.”

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Officials at some other hospitals disputed the findings, which they said relied on incomplete data. And David Langness, spokesman for the Hospital Council of Southern California, described the Medicare data as “somewhat misleading.”

“It would be better to look at statistics for each individual doctor, but that data doesn’t exist,” he said. “I don’t want to trash the report because I think Hoag is a terrific hospital, but the data is not complete.”

Chris McBride, executive director of Healthcare Data Source, says the firm wants “to fill a void” in available information about hospital care. “It allows patients to become informed consumers, and consumers can decide if the reputation of an institution is earned or not,” he said.

According to the report, only 4.4% of Hoag’s 459 Medicare patients died in the hospital after open-heart surgery. Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo, which ranked second in in-hospital mortality rates, and Western Medical Center-Santa Ana, which ranked third, also reported lower rates than the 5.9% state and national averages.

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Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton had the highest in-hospital mortality rates.

“When you report raw mortality figures, it doesn’t take into account risk or age factors,” said David Perkowski, a cardiovascular surgeon at Saddleback. “For instance, the patient could have had previous heart attacks, hypertension or kidney problems.”

The report also provided mortality rates for patients 30 days after they were discharged and survival rates for patients six months and a year later. Hoag placed first in each category.

Hoag’s $49,451 average charge for open-heart surgery was about equal to the national average of $49,511 and bettered the state average of $67,829. UCI Medical Center in Orange, at $99,390, and Western Medical Center-Santa Ana, at $90,276, posted the highest charges.

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