Doctors Hospital(Sarasota, Florida) downplays concerns over its new heart procedures.

By , Herald-Tribune
Friday, November 11, 2011

Doctors Hospital of Sarasota plans to begin angioplasty and stenting for heart patients Monday in its new, $2 million “cath lab,” arguing that the service is needed in east Sarasota — and that concerns about its ability to treat serious emergency cases are unfounded.

Doctors Hospital will offer stenting, in which a flexible tube is inserted into an artery.

Cardiologists in the new stent program face more strict requirements than they would at a facility equipped for open-heart surgery, such as Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Doctors Hospital officials said.

“For patients experiencing a heart attack, Doctors Hospital is now prepared to begin life-saving treatment immediately,” a statement released by the hospital said. “By offering this procedure, we reduce the need for a patient with a blocked artery to be transferred for treatment.”

Less invasive cath lab procedures have surpassed traditional bypass surgery in the last decade, a lucrative and growing market that Doctors — part of Hospital Corporation of America — could tap as more of the massive baby boom generation reaches the age when most heart troubles occur.

The number of U.S. hospitals that offer angioplasty and stenting grew by 26 percent from 2001 to 2008.

This move to diversify echoes another controversial effort by HCA — to begin offering trauma care at nine of its Florida sites. And it raises similar questions about the wisdom of health providers scrambling to build market share by adding costly services that may be redundant for their region.

Doctors has hired Palmetto cardiologist Gino J. Sedillo as the program’s medical director, and said it has “a fully trained, multidisciplinary team” to assist him.

At least one other heart specialist, Ricardo Yaryura, has agreed to treat his own patients at Doctors if that is their choice. But Yaryura said he will not be on call for heart attack emergencies, because he has reservations about Doctors’ ability to take on the most urgent and complex cases.

“It still has to do with the fact that if something goes wrong, I have to get you into an ambulance and transfer you somewhere else,” he said.

Yaryura, Sarasota Memorial’s medical director of interventional cardiology, added that he considers working with an unfamiliar team at Doctors a drawback.

Sarasota cardiologists and nurses have publicly and privately expressed doubts about whether Doctors, a 147-bed hospital, can handle the unpredictability and volume of emergency heart attack cases. They cited the hospital’s lack of surgical backup to handle the small number of cases where complications arise.

But the hospital said a third of their patients who needed angioplasty in the last year were transferred to area hospitals that do not offer surgery, and that 39 non-open-heart hospitals in Florida have stent labs.

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