UNC Children's in compliance, 'significantly different' after heart program concerns, regulators find

Health officials deemed Chapel Hill, N.C.-based UNC Children's Hospital in compliance with federal regulations, saying the hospital is "significantly different" than it was three years ago, when physicians expressed concerns about its heart surgery program, according to a CMS report cited by The New York Times.

UNC Children's came under fire after NYT published a 7,000-word investigative report about the heart surgery program May 30. The report found the hospital's cardiologists had voiced serious concerns about the program's safety and quality in 2016.

After the investigative report, North Carolina Secretary of Health Mandy Cohen, MD, called for an investigation into the hospital. Regulators visited the hospital for two weeks in June, reviewing patients' medical records, observing hospital operations and interviewing staff members and patients.

Investigators concluded that the hospital's heart program "is significantly different than it was during 2016-17," a CMS spokesperson told NYT.

UNC Children's Hospital has stood behind its heart program, which administrators call "very strong" today. Leaders denied any past issues with patient care and previously told NYT "a dysfunctional group" generated mistrust and created "team culture issues" in 2016. The hospital also temporarily paused complex heart surgeries after NYT's report and plans to publicly share its outcomes data.

UNC Children's on Aug. 1 told NYT it had no other commentary to provide.

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