3 agencies investigate Miami Transplant Institute heart program

Miami Transplant Institute at Jackson Memorial Hospital has undergone three investigations by three agencies after it closed its heart transplant program in mid-March, the Miami Herald reported April 23.

The adult heart program was shuttered March 20 at the urging of the United Network for Organ Sharing, the organization that operates the country's organ transplant system under contract by the federal government, according to the report. No new patients have been accepted and current patients were transferred to other locations. The institute — which is jointly run by Jackson Health System, a public safety-net system based in Miami, and the University of Miami's UHealth — shut the program to undergo review by UNOS.

Within two weeks, three agencies — UNOS, CMS and the state's Agency for Health Care Administration — have opened investigations into the institute's heart program. In a CMS complaint obtained by the Herald, Jackson whistleblowers reported "poor patient outcomes," including deaths that may have been preventable. The complaint said the deaths could have been caused by factors such as prolonged reliance on ventilators after surgery, persistent organ failure, sepsis and poor surgical management.

The heart program is undergoing another blow: Its former chief, Matthias Loebe, MD, who was stripped of his administrative duties in October, will no longer be allowed to treat patients. No explanation was given, according to the report.

Jackson issued the following statement to the Herald regarding the complaints from an unknown number of medical professionals:

"Jackson Health System takes any allegations and complaints extremely seriously. In this case, our Risk Department investigated these claims thoroughly and determined them to be completely unfounded after conducting exhaustive reviews of patients' medical records. While the outcomes in these programs are generally aligned with other national programs, Miami Transplant Institute holds itself to a high standard and believes there is room to improve our heart transplant and [heart pump] programs.

"As we have mentioned before, MTI is currently in a transition that will elevate the leadership, processes, and other elements of the [heart] program. Through the years, MTI has been one of the top centers in the nation to perform solid organ transplants in adults and children, and our mission remains the same — to save lives and make lifesaving transplants available to the most critically ill patients, even if other hospitals have deemed their cases as hopeless."

Jackson's Left Ventricular Assist Device implantation program has also seen setbacks after complaints to regulators. Between 2020 and 2023, Jackson reported that 79 percent of pump recipients survived one year after the procedure, but a complaint to CMS stated the number was slightly lower at 75 percent. Both fall behind the national number for 2017 through 2021, which is 83 percent with a one-year survival rate, according to a 2022 report by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

UNOS is expected to issue an action plan by the end of April that will outline what Jackson's heart program must do to reopen. Jackson officials have not commented on the process or the investigations.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars