Johns Hopkins All Children's deaths spur bill calling for more oversight

Florida Senate Health Policy Chairwoman Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, filed a bill that would boost oversight of pediatric heart surgery programs in the state, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Ms. Harrell said she drafted the proposal in response to care quality issues at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg and St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach. Both hospitals suspended their pediatric heart programs due to scrutiny over high heart surgery death rates.

The bill would permit pediatric heart physicians to make unannounced visits to underperforming heart programs. The physicians would review death records, interview clinicians and inspect the facility before submitting a report to Florida's Pediatric Cardiology Technical Advisory Panel. The panel would then recommend corrective action as necessary.

"We need to do things a little differently and make sure that there is the review of the standards that are expected to be met," Ms. Harrell told the Tampa Bay Times. "We want to make sure that we have standards in place and our cardiac centers are doing all they can to make sure children get the very best care."

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