CA heart transplant program suspends operations

After a warning by CMS that it might lose its certification, UC San Diego Medical Center has decided to shut down its heart transplant program, at least for the time being. The program performed only four transplants last year, down from 10 during the previous year. Both fell under the minimum level of 12 heart transplants CMS requires a center to perform each year; CMS assumes that centers who perform less aren't doing them often enough to stay in practice. The move comes as part of a CMS review of heart, lung and liver transplant programs nationwide, which found that about one-fifth of the 236 federally-eligible centers had poor patient survival rates and/or performed too few operations to stay proficient at their specialty. Without UC San Diego, nine California heart transplant programs remain, including Sutter Memorial in Sacramento. Sutter's program is also under investigation by CMS, and faces decertification unless it can meet CMS standards.

For more about the transplant program issue:
- read this Los Angeles Times piece

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