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The chief heart valve surgeon at the heart surgery department of Tel Hashomer Hospital, Dr. Zvi Ziskind, has been told that he can no longer perform operations alone, after a Health Ministry committee found that he had an unusually high post-surgery mortality rate.

The committee was set up following repeated complaints that the heart surgery department's post-operative mortality rate appeared unusually high, in fact it is substantially higher than that in similar departments in Europe and the United States.

The panel looked into 240 heart operation patients, particularly coronary bypass patients, treated by department surgeons in 2000. The committee found that 22 of the patients (9.2 percent) died within a month after their operation. According to European and American models for hospital mortality rates, which take in factors such as the patient's pre-operative condition and age, the rate should be 5.3 percent.

According to the findings, 45 (22 percent) of Ziskind's 204 surgery patients in 1999-2000 died within a month after their operation. Based on the foreign models, the anticipated rate is 9.8 percent.

The committee noted that Ziskind handled particularly difficult cases that were much more severe than those used in the American and European model. "Despite this, the mortality rate is substantially higher than would have been predicted by either the European or American model."