St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida is being evaluated after 9 babies died in the last four years after having heart surgery there. CNN calculated the raw mortality rate from 2011-2013 to be 12.5 percent, which is more than three times the national averages for such surgeries. Doctors affiliated with Children’s Medical Services have recommended the hospital stop operating on infants under six months old.
In 2011, St. Mary’s began its cardiovascular program. In that time the nine deaths, plus one infant who was left with paralyzed legs, has led doctors and state officials to question the viability of the program. The primary complaint from doctors in regard to this issue is that the hospital doesn’t perform enough of these procedures on an annual basis to become proficient. Most programs have more than 100 cases per year, whereas St. Mary’s has much fewer. But the Department of Health does not have the authority to make any changes to the program that could improve the mortality rate.