UNC Children’s cleared to resume complex heart surgeries

North Carolina Children’s Hospital has received the go-ahead from an external advisory board to resume complex heart surgeries after a New York Times investigation ground the program to a halt three months ago, the Times reports.

UNC Health Care first announced the suspension of its more complex pediatric heart surgeries in mid-June, after the Times revealed worrying mortality statistics. North Carolina’s health secretary called for an investigation into UNC’s practices, but the federal review yielded little information, uncovering “no current deficiencies” in the program.

The advisory board issued a six-page report Sept. 17 detailing “significant investment and progress” at the children’s hospital and outlining areas for improvement. Those included consistently and publicly reporting mortality data, hiring a second full-time pediatric heart surgeon and increasing the volume of surgeries at the center.

Wesley Burks, chief executive of UNC Health Care, reportedly said Tuesday that North Carolina Children’s would be making “further enhancements” to its program, “because we recognize the importance of caring for very sick children with incredibly complex medical problems.”

The health system hasn’t announced a date for resuming surgeries.

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