High Mortality Rate Found at Sheba Dep't

The mortality rate of patients at the heart surgery department of Sheba Hospital at Tel Hashomer is substantially higher than that in similar departments in Europe and the United States. An unusually high post-surgery mortality rate has also been noted among patients of Dr. Zvi Ziskind, the department's chief heart valve surgeon, according to the findings of a Health Ministry committee.

The panel was set up following repeated complaints that the department's post-operative mortality rate appeared unusually high.

The committee 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."

Following the findings, the head of the department informed Ziskind that he is not authorized to operate alone.