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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

A Cardiac Surgery Fiasco

In the Thursday, Philadelphia Inquirer, September 18, 2008 there is an article on ” Taking the pulse of surgery at region’s heart hospitals ” What a joke! There are 22 hospitals in the Philadelphia region doing cardiac surgery.  There should be only nine or ten, at most, performing these procedures in our area. Due to the unconscionable political  machinations of the Ridge  administration in 1996-1997, the certificate of need for such programs was allowed to sunset, allowing for 13-14 new cardiac surgical programs to be established here. Many  of these hospitals are performing less than 100 operations for year.  Those numbers are below what the surgical societies believe are sufficient to maintain quality.  What a travesty! When politicians become involved in medical matters, the quality of care falls and the cost of everything rises.  I know, because I was on the State Committee that concluded that no new program should be instituted.  We were stonewalled and despite our efforts, the certificate of need was allowed to go out of existence and we presently have the atrocious situation which will ultimately impact the public most severely in quality and cost. So be careful what you wish for when the presidential candidates mouth off about their plans to reform health care.

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