Friday, October 17, 2003

Mercy Fairfield programs are fine

Dr. Anthony Behler
Guest columnist

Dr. Anthony Behler

Two articles recently appeared in the Enquirer related to heart attack care and services. I know that there are many misconceptions related to medical data and services. First, heart attack ratings:

The Sept. 26 article, ("Local hospital care graded") questioned the quality of heart attack care at Mercy Hospital Fairfield based on Health grades ratings. Data without context can be misleading; here are some pertinent facts:

•  The ratings for Mercy Hospital Fairfield include 16 months' worth of Medicare data for Mercy Hospital Hamilton, which closed in 2001.

• The article failed to mention that some Medicare data was not used by Health grades due to inaccuracies, which resulted in a smaller data set on which to base the ratings.

• The data for Fairfield reflects outcomes based on care provided at other hospitals. Prior to the opening of Fairfield's Open Heart Program in December 2001, heart attack patients requiring additional interventional procedures were transferred to other hospitals. Health grades data counts patients who could not be stabilized in the first hospital's mortality numbers; stabilized, transferred patients are counted in the second hospital's numbers.

I believe that the Health grades heart attack ratings for Mercy Hospital Fairfield are based on less than solid data.

Next, angioplasty:

An article that ran on Oct. 5 in the Enquirer, "Some small hospitals ignore better heart-attack treatment," accurately discussed the value of angioplasty, which opens up arteries, over clot-dissolving medications. Today in Ohio, a hospital must offer open-heart services in order to offer angioplasty. Yet, in our area, hospitals establishing open-heart programs are criticized for misusing healthcare resources. For heart-attack patients, every minute counts; therefore, angioplasty should be available at community hospitals so that heart attack victims do not spend 30 to 40 minutes additional time in transit.

Mercy Hospital Fairfield's Open Heart program has served more than 400 patients since opening in Dec. 2001. The program's outcomes exceed national benchmarks. Its physicians and nurses are experienced and counted among the best in greater Cincinnati. Overall, the services offered are nothing less than the gold standard. I believe in Mercy Fairfield for my family and my patients. Actions speak louder than numbers and words. When my father called me in Sept. 2001 with cardiac symptoms, I took him to Mercy Hospital Fairfield. Dr. Tom Jenike and the expert cardiac team performed an angiogram and an angioplasty with excellent outcomes. Since then, Mercy has added a cardiac angiography laboratory, a cardiac surgery unit and is expanding to meet Butler County's needs.

Anthony F. Behler, M.D., is an Associate Medical Director for Mercy Hospital Fairfield.

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Mercy Fairfield programs are fine
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