Lehigh Valley News | Tom Rowan Jr.
Hackensack University Medical Center may have an issue with its mortality rate for organ transplant patients, but its Hackettstown affiliate is unshaken, officials said.
Hackensack temporarily shut down its transplant program after the death rate for adults in the year after receiving kidney transplants was discovered to be three times the national average.
Ten of 90 patients died in the year after receiving a transplant, during the 30 months ending December 2010.
Judith Wiegand, executive director of business development and facility planning for Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, said the voluntary suspension will not affect a five-year cooperative agreement the hospitals signed that took effect last July 1.
"Many times you don't know the details behind the data," Wiegand said Tuesday. "Are they seeing higher at-risk patients? Are they seeing sicker patients? I don't know the answer to that. So, the data can be misleading."
Wiegand said there are many variables that may not be taken into account, such as a patient's health having declined since the time they first registered, which could lead to a higher post-transplant mortality rate.
"There's a lot of stuff," she said. "This is not a black and white situation."
Sheri Hensley, spokeswoman for Hackensack University Medical Center, said the hospital's "top priority is the delivery of the highest-quality care to our patients."
She said the hospital plans to restore its organ transplant program to active status in four months.
"Presently, we are working with each patient in our program to ensure they continue to receive the best care possible and are appropriately protected during this time," Hensley said in a statement. "Our transplantation program is rebuilding its personnel, processes and technology infrastructure in order to better serve our patients."
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