- Doctors & Departments
- Conditions & Advice
- Your Visit
- Research & Innovation
“Do research before making decisions to seek care at another hospital outside of your community or state. Talk to the physicians and other medical staff who will be caring for your child. These prenatal conversations along with extensive research is what led us to pursue Children’s Colorado for our son's serious heart condition.”
— Heart warrior mom
It’s an honor to care for your child and your family. Every day, our pediatric cardiology team works diligently to ensure that your child has access to safe and effective treatments in a family-centered environment.
At the Heart Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado, we evaluate our success by monitoring and comparing our cardiology outcomes with other top pediatric cardiology hospitals. We also routinely check and update our quality and patient safety outcomes to ensure that families have access to the latest information. Transparency with our patients and colleagues is one of the keys to our success as one of the best hospitals for pediatric heart surgery in the U.S.
In the medical world, the term “outcomes” means “success rates.” Pediatric cardiology programs measure and report their outcomes to help parents make the best decision about where to take their child for heart surgery.
Expand the windows below to view some of the many things we measure in order to ensure that we’re providing the highest level of cardiac care for every patient.
Heart surgery programs typically report their overall survival rate as well as survival rates based on the complexity of the surgery. At Children’s Colorado, our overall survival for all cardiac surgery patients, regardless of surgical complexity, is 97.3%. The national average is 97.1%.
Source: STS July 2014 through June 2019
Some congenital heart defects are more complex than others. Because there are so many types of heart defects, no pediatric heart program will see the exact same types of heart defects each year. The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) organizes the types of surgeries into five categories of complexity, which are referred to as “STAT categories.”
STAT categories organize heart surgeries into groups based on how risky or complex they are. The STAT 1 category indicates surgeries with the lowest risk of death, while the STAT 5 category indicates the surgeries with the highest risk of death. A hospital that has a high survival rate for STAT 5 cases indicates success at handling unpredictable situations during the operation and in recovery.
For STAT 5 neonatal surgeries, the most complex, the Heart Institute's survival rate is 88.2%, higher than the national average.
Source: STS July 2014 through June 2019
Surgery programs also report mortality, which is the percentage of patients who did not survive their operation. (The more complex the surgery, the higher the risk of mortality.)
Below are Children’s Colorado’s cardiac surgery mortality rates by STAT category, age of the patient and type of surgery.
|Age category||Total cases||Observed mortality rate Children's Colorado||Expected mortality rate Children's Colorado||Adjusted mortality rate Children's Colorado (95% confidence interval)||STS|
|Newborns + Infants||823||4.6%||4.7%||4.7% [3.3,6.3]||4.7%|
|Newborns + Infants + Children||1492||3.0%||3.0%||3.1% [2.2,4.1]||3.0%|
|Newborns + Infants + Children + Adults||1690||2.7%||2.8%||2.8% [2.1,3.7]||2.9%|
The adjusted mortality rate (AMR) is a statistical evaluation developed by the STS that predicts a patient’s risk of undergoing surgery. This evaluation attempts to include patient-related risk factors prior to surgery, such as age, weight and genetic factors, in addition to the patient’s surgical risk. Using this method, the STS compares the actual patient outcomes (observed outcomes) to expected outcomes (those predicted by the statistical model). Ultimately, a heart center should strive to have observed mortality that is the same or less than the expected mortality.
July 2014 through June 2018
|By specific operation||Total operations Children's Colorado||Children's Colorado mortality||STS mortality|
|Arterial switch repair||23||0%||2.1%|
|Arterial switch repair + Ventricular septal defect||10||0%||4.7%|
|Atrioventricular canal defect repair||40||2.5%||2.6%|
|Glenn / Hemi-fontan||83||1.2%||2.0%|
|Tetralogy of Fallot repair||39||0%||1.2%|
|Ventricular septal defect repair||122||0%||0.6%|
|Off bypass coarctation of the aorta||120||0.8%||1.4%|
The chart below shows the average number of days that children stay in the hospital for heart surgery, by STAT category. Cardiac surgery patients at Children’s Colorado spend less time in the hospital than the national average, indicating that they receive high quality care in the hospital that helps them go home sooner. The longer kids stay in the hospital after surgery, the more likely they are to have complications.
At the Heart Institute at Children's Colorado, we continue to pursue ways of providing excellent patient care and outcomes. To continue this endeavor, we have implemented a number of quality-improvement initiatives to help enhance our performance and continue doing what we do best: fixing little hearts. Some of our initiatives include:
The Heart Institute approaches patient care as a team. Our team consists of specialized physicians, anesthesiologists, nurses, nutritionists, perfusionists, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and lab technicians. Our team approach ensures that every patient receives the best care possible, customized for each and every child.
Survival after heart surgery is the most important measure of the success of a cardiac surgical procedure (although it is not the only outcome we routinely monitor and analyze). The number of children and adults who survive surgery for congenital heart disease has increased significantly over the last 15 years, which has helped us concentrate on preventing complications that may occur during a hospital stay after heart surgery.
In addition to survival rates, the STS database includes important information about surgical complications. This information allows us to analyze survival data in conjunction with complication data, so we can compare ourselves to other programs across the country. Comparisons with other top institutions help us better understand how we are performing as a program, as well as identify areas for improvement.
Learn more about the Heart Surgery Program at Children's Colorado.
According to STS, "surgical survival" is defined as being alive at least 30 days after a procedure and having been discharged alive from the hospital. Utilizing the STS definition ensures that institutions across the country are using consistent data reporting methods. The STS report is updated every six months.
This information is from the STS Congenital Heart Surgery Database, which is the largest congenital heart surgery database in the world.
Yes, the STS database allows us to compare our outcomes to other congenital heart surgery programs in North America. We, along with these other programs, submit data to the STS twice a year. The STS verifies the integrity of the data and generates reports that allow us to compare results with our peers across the country.
We continually track patient outcomes and will publicly report data on this website.
At Children’s Colorado, our heart transplant survival outcomes are better than the national average when we compare rates at both 30 days and one year after transplant. In fact, we have the highest survival rate in the nation for one-year heart transplant survival.
Our median time to heart transplant and median time in the hospital for transplant are both better than regional and national measures.
Heart transplant survival is the length of time a patient is alive after receiving a new heart. It may also be referred to as patient survival.
We measure heart transplant survival to compare our program to others around the country and to identify potential areas for improvement. We also use the survival information to compare how we perform over time.
Excellent heart transplant care comes from a dedicated team. Our team consists of a multidisciplinary team of transplant cardiac specialists and surgeons who partner with dedicated transplant pharmacists, psychologists, social workers and other specialized team members for the best possible care. In addition, we provide cardiac rehabilitative services to help heart transplant recipients get back to good health and normal childhood activities sooner.
Learn more about the Heart Transplant Program at Children's Colorado.
The heart transplant team at Children's Colorado maintains an internal database and reports data to the United Network for Organ Sharing. This data is publicly available from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) at www.srtr.org.
Yes, the national benchmarks are based on data from the SRTR. As a heart transplant center, we regularly submit data and compare our patient outcomes to several national societies, including the SRTR and the Pediatric Heart Transplant Study.
Our internal database is updated on an ongoing basis. Results of all transplant programs’ survival rates are made available to the public by the SRTR in January and July of every year.
Another important measure of success for a hospital’s pediatric cardiology program is volume, which is the number of surgeries or procedures the hospital performs each year. Performing a higher number of surgeries (higher volume) means that the team has more experience performing these operations. Studies have shown that this experience correlates to better patient outcomes.
Here at Children’s Colorado, we perform hundreds of heart procedures each year. Reference the charts below to learn the number of surgeries, heart catheterizations and electrocardiograms we have performed over the last four years.
|No cardio-pulmonary bypass||136||136||119||121|
We measure the rate of central line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) in both of our inpatient units, the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) and the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit (CPCU).
In 2017, we had a very low rate of CLABSI in our CPCU and CICU. In 2018, despite good compliance with our preventive care bundles, we noted an increase in our CLABSI rate:
As such, we have increased our monitoring and diligence in providing our preventative care bundle. As of May 2019, we have had an overall decrease in CLABSI rates in the Heart Institute.
When a patient is in the hospital for heart surgery, we place a small plastic tube called a catheter into the blood vessels near the heart. This is called a “central line.” Central lines are used to:
Sometimes, bacteria enter a patient’s central line, which means these bacteria can enter the patient’s bloodstream and make the patient sick. This is called a central line-associated bloodstream infection, or CLABSI. The longer patients have a central line, the higher the risk of them getting a CLABSI.
Our goal is to never have a bloodstream infection. We measure the rate of bloodstream infections from a central line to be able to find ways to prevent them in the future. Our goal is to reduce infection rates, reduce potential complications for our patients and ultimately help kids get better faster.
We have a number of projects in place to reduce the possibility of an infection, including:
We continue to improve the safety and quality of care throughout the Heart Institute through thoughtful and persistent monitoring. In addition to requiring quality metrics from each team within the Heart Institute, we perform weekly safety walk-arounds, which help parents and staff have a voice in directing improvement initiatives.
If you have any questions about this information, please don't hesitate to contact us by calling 720-777-SAFE. Or, visit the links below for even more resources for heart parents: