At least eight babies have died while in the care of St. Mary’s Medical Center’s pediatric open heart surgery department in Florida. This may not seem like an alarmingly high number at first, but the program has only been in place for less than four years and only performs about 27 or fewer operations a year.
Since 2011, families who have brought their fragile newborns in for complex surgical procedures have fallen victim to the facility’s mix of negligence, misinformation and failure to right wrongs.
According to this report by CNN, the facility has repeatedly received substandard reviews for its ability — or rather its inability — to perform complex pediatric heart operations. Despite recommendations that the facility refrain from performing complex operations without better training, the hospital and surgeons continued to perform such operations all while reassuring patient families that they knew what they were doing.
Sadly, this wasn’t necessarily true for all cases. CNN’s report notes that complex surgeries were performed and infants suffered devastating complications on several occasions. Some families were able to save their babies by having them transferred to a different hospital; others were not so lucky.
The number of babies that have died at the facility was difficult to track down. Evidently, the hospital has hidden information about their mortality rate for open heart surgeries. It was only after CNN filed a Freedom of Information request that the death rate at the hospital could be figured out: It is reportedly three times higher than the national average.
This situation, as distressing as it is, highlights some very serious issues that impact people all across the U.S., including right here in Atlanta. It serves as a powerful reminder that not all hospitals are willing to make patient care as high of a priority as making money. It shows the lengths to which some doctors and facilities will go to in order to protect themselves and try to mislead patients and their families.
It also reminds us that if and when something goes wrong in a hospital, we may not always be able to trust those who are telling us it’s someone else’s fault or that nothing could have been done to prevent complications. Further investigation, as well as legal support and guidance, can be crucial to getting the answers patients and their families deserve.