Heart Surgeries on Hold at St. Agnes

May 27, 2008 7:46:11 PM PDT
A major investigation of the cardiac unit at St. Agnes Medical Center after seven patients report cases of post-operation infections in the last few months. The hospital's President and CEO Mathew Abraham said the hospital has only confirmed 3 of those cases. He said most patients reported getting a leg infection after having a vein removed in heart surgery. But he added that all the infections happened after the patients had gone home. Abraham also told action news "Based on the number of cases the state felt it necessary to take a closer look. Until they finalize their findings we will only do emergency cardiac surgeries. But we didn't have any this weekend."

Dr. Edward Moreno is the Director of Fresno County's Health Department. He says the state stepped in this weekend and stopped all heart surgeries after noticing an unusual rise in infections. "They don't want to put their patients in unnecessary risk and the best thing to do is find what's causing the increased infections and deal with it as soon as possible."

The hospital's president said none of these infections were life-threatening and none of the patients were readmitted to the hospital as a result of them. Last year there was a similar situation within the cardiac unit at St. Agnes. The Centers for Disease Control investigated after 12 patients got life-threatening bacterial infections. Three of those patients died.

Now, the ban on performing heart surgeries at St. Agnes is having a ripple effect on Kaiser Permanente which sends some its cardiac patients there. A Kaiser spokesman said it will have to send its heart surgery patients to another Fresno hospital or a Kaiser hospital in the Bay Area.

Action news has also learned that in an unrelated case last year the State Health Department handed St. Agnes the most severe monetary penalty under state law for failing to provide a safe system for storing and distributing its drugs. That fine was 25-thousand dollars.


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