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CNN report on Florida hospital leads to heart surgery program closure

Story highlights

  • St. Mary's Medical Center closes its pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program
  • At least nine babies died after having heart surgery there since 2011
  • A 10th baby was left paralyzed

(CNN)St. Mary's Medical Center in Florida announced Monday that it would permanently close its pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program, and two days later came the announcement that its CEO had resigned.

The moves comes in the wake of a yearlong CNN investigation, which found that from 2011 to 2013, the program had a 12.5% mortality rate for open heart surgeries, which is more than three times the national average.
    At least nine babies died after having heart surgery at the hospital since the program started in 2011. A 10th baby was left paralyzed.
    The surgeries and the deaths continued even after the chairman of an expert state panel recommended in June 2014 that St. Mary's stop doing heart surgeries on babies under the age of 6 months, and stop doing complex heart surgeries on all children.
    "We are proud of the work that has been done and the lives that have been saved. This is the decision of the hospital and not based on a decision or recommendation by the state of Florida or any regulatory agency," the West Palm Beach hospital said in a statement on its website.
    St. Mary's continued: "The inaccurate media reports on our program have made it significantly more challenging to build sustainable volume in our program. At this time we feel it is best to focus on other services needed by our community."
    After CNN's investigation was published, the hospital released a statement saying CNN's mortality calculations were "wrong," "exaggerated" and "completely erroneous" and that the program's risk-adjusted mortality rate was within the average range for pediatric heart surgery programs nationwide.
    The hospital also said then it would launch a comprehensive review of its pediatric cardiac surgery program and wouldn't schedule any elective pediatric congenital cardiac surgery cases until the review was completed.
    Calls to the hospital seeking additional comment Monday were not immediately returned.
    On Wednesday St. Mary's announced the resignation of its chief executive officer, Davide Carbone, in a statement obtained by local media.
    "We appreciate Davide's dedication to both St. Mary's and the Palm Beach community for the last nine years and wish him well in his future endeavors," the statement read.