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Heart Failure

The Decline of a Historic Transplant Program

ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle are investigating troubles at Baylor St. Luke’s in Houston, an illustrious heart program that has recently had some of the worst outcomes in the country.

Federal Inspectors Cite St. Luke’s in Houston for Problems in a Heart Transplant

Defibrillator paddles did not work during a patient’s heart transplant in January, and a backup set was not nearby. The transplant ultimately failed, and the patient died two months later. His case was featured in a May article.

St. Luke’s in Houston Replaces Heart Transplant Surgical Director After Program Loses Medicare Funding

The hiring of two outside surgeons comes after Medicare terminated funding to the heart transplant program, citing poor outcomes in recent years. Hospital leaders also hired a new top transplant administrator, saying the new staff members will help move the program forward.

“They’ve Got to Execute You”: St. Luke’s Doctor Faces Discipline After Raising Patient Care Concerns

A Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center physician alleges in a lawsuit that hospital officials retaliated against him for expressing concerns about ICU care. The Houston hospital has denied the allegation in court filings.

Trump Administration Proposes Weakening Rules Governing Organ Transplant Centers

The revised rules, proposed this week as part of the agency’s efforts to reduce “burdensome” federal regulations, would no longer penalize hospitals if too many of their patients die following transplants. St. Luke’s in Houston recently lost its Medicare funding for heart transplants for that very reason.

Heart Surgery “Legend” a Factor in Transplant Deaths, a St. Luke’s Colleague Told Inspector

Notes released by a federal agency indicate that one of the hospital’s top heart transplant doctors spoke about “a retiring surgeon” who “wouldn’t stop performing transplants” in explaining a rash of patient deaths. Only Dr. O.H. “Bud” Frazier matches that description.

Prominent Houston Judge Quits St. Luke’s Board After Heart Transplant Troubles Revealed

Carolyn Dineen King, a senior U.S. Circuit Court judge, resigned from the St. Luke’s board on May 30, two weeks after ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle detailed deaths and complications in the famed heart program.

St. Luke’s Heart Transplant Program to Lose Medicare Funding Today

The action is a stunning blow for a historic program that has performed among the most heart transplants in the nation.

Famed Houston Surgeon Updates Conflict-of-Interest Disclosures

ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle reported in May that Dr. O.H. “Bud” Frazier had often failed to disclose his payments from medical device makers in articles he authored. Since then, he’s amended his disclosures for three pieces in the New England Journal of Medicine.

For Most Common Heart Surgery, St. Luke’s Has Been Among the Nation’s Worst

A leading group of surgeons gave the Houston hospital poor marks for heart bypasses. Hospital officials acknowledge the low rating, but say outcomes have improved in the past year.

Prominent Texas Surgeon Sues ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle

Bud Frazier, a pioneer in the development of artificial hearts, filed a libel suit alleging he was “falsely” portrayed in two articles exploring alleged lapses in research and ethical practices.

He Went In for a Heart Transplant. He Suffered Severe Brain Damage. Now His Family Is Suing St. Luke’s.

After a heart transplant in August 2016, Ernest “Chris” Keys can’t talk or walk. The Houston hospital is under pressure for the quality of its once-renowned heart program.

Supporters of a Famed Houston Surgeon Have Alleged Inaccuracies in Our Investigation. Here’s Our Response

Several dozen people have authored letters defending Dr. O.H. “Bud” Frazier and criticizing an investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle. We stand behind our story.

Medicare to Terminate Funding for St. Luke’s Heart Transplant Program in Houston

Federal health officials say the hospital hasn’t done enough to improve care after a string of patient deaths. The decision comes a month after ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle found serious problems with the program.

After Two-Week Review, St. Luke’s in Houston Reopens Its Heart Transplant Program

Officials said they found no “systemic issues” in the care of two patients who died last month, but that they are making staffing and policy changes to improve the program.

Patients Wait in Limbo as St. Luke’s Heart Transplant Program Reviews Its Problems

“I sort of feel like we’ve been left in the dark,” says one patient’s wife, who learned from a reporter — and not the Houston hospital — about the program’s temporary suspension. An expert says it will likely take much longer than 14 days to fix.

St. Luke’s to Suspend Heart Transplants After Recent Deaths

The move comes two weeks after ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle reported on pervasive problems in the historic heart program.

A Pioneering Heart Surgeon’s Secret History of Research Violations, Conflicts of Interest and Poor Outcomes

Over decades, Bud Frazier has played a leading role in the development of mechanical heart pumps and an artificial heart. Out of public view, he’s been accused of putting his quest to make history ahead of the needs of some patients.

Here’s How ProPublica Analyzed Bud Frazier’s Medicare Outcomes

Our analysis showed that Frazier, a heart surgery legend, had one of the highest one-year death rates in the nation for left ventricular assist device implantations in Medicare from 2010-2015.

A Death in Slow Motion

A heart transplant. A medical mishap. A drawn-out ending. All told on Facebook.

At St. Luke’s in Houston, Patients Suffer as a Renowned Heart Transplant Program Loses Its Luster

The hospital and its legendary surgeon Denton Cooley performed some of the world’s first heart transplants back in the 1960s. In recent years, though, it has had some of the worst heart transplant outcomes in the country.

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