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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Mary Washington gets two stars for heart surgery program

Mary Washington Hospital finished in the great middle in a new ranking of the nation’s heart bypass surgery programs.

Dr. Pyongsoo Yoon

Consumer Reports gives the Fredericksburg hospital two out of  three stars, or what it describes as an “average” ranking.

The magazine says that the typical heart bypass patient at Mary Washington:

* Has a 98 percent chance of surviving for at least 30 days after the surgery and of being discharged.

* Has an 87 percent chance of avoiding one of the five major complications.

* Has a 68 percent chance of receiving all four recommended medicines.

* Has a 97 percent chance of having the surgery done in the optimal way.

Kathleen Allenbaugh, hospital spokeswoman, said last week that hospital officials are proud of their 15-year-old program. She added that heart surgery patients there received the recommended medicines, but that the hospital was not always recording that fact.

“We did have an issue with documentation last year,” she said. “We’ve corrected that, and we’re already seeing improvements.”

The data cover 2009 and reflect the work of heart surgeons Dr. Pyongsoo Yoon and Dr. John Armitage. Yoon replaced Armitage as medical director of Mary Washington’s program when Armitage departed in June.

The magazine published the rankings earlier this month, based on data supplied by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. The society has collected heart surgery data since 1989, but this is the first time it has made it available to the public.

The listing ranks 221 heart surgery programs, or about 20 percent of the programs in the U.S. Of these, 166 programs received two stars.

The ranking includes only those heart programs that voluntarily reported their data. Mary Washington was one of three heart surgery programs in Virginia in the listing.

Centra Lynchburg General Hospital received three stars. Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, like Mary Washington, received two stars.

The magazine said that heart surgery patients can be comfortable being treated at a two-star program.

“Because the average performance of surgical groups has increased substantially in the past two decades, it’s possible to get very good care from many two-star groups.”

(Some of the heart surgery information is available here at the Consumer Reports’ web site. But the magazine requires a $4.95 30-day subscription to see the detailed ratings. For more details about the ranking, see tomorrow’s story in the paper.)