Cardiothoracic Surgery Program at ARMC Receives Three-star Rating

September 2011

The adult cardiac surgery component of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) National Database includes more than four million surgical records generated by approximately 90 percent of the more than 1,100 cardiac surgery groups in the U.S., making it the largest such registry in the world. Participating groups add data on a quarterly basis, providing an up-to-date account of their surgical practice and outcomes that can then be used to benchmark their performances and develop quality improvement measures and standards of practice.

In 2011, the STS announced that these groups could voluntarily report their Database ratings for bypass surgery on the STS website and in Consumer Reports. The cardiothoracic surgery program at Athens Regional Medical Center (ARMC), a Database participant since Emory surgeons began staffing the program in 2008, was one of the 323 groups from 44 states that published its rating in Consumer Reports' September edition.

"We received the highest ranking of three stars, placing us in the top 10-to-15 percent of bypass surgery programs in the country," says Dr. Cullen Morris, medical director of ARMC's cardiothoracic surgery program. "This emphasizes that people in Athens don't have to travel outside of the city limits to get world-class heart surgery treatment."

While the ARMC program's rating, the highest in the state, was based on the surgical groups' overall performance, level of complications, and other quality measures in heart bypass surgeries, Dr. Morris is quick to point out that successful programs rely on more than just the surgeons. "The rating is a distinction that shows just how hard all of our doctors, nurses, staff, and administrators work to ensure good patient outcomes," he says. "Regardless of the treatment plan, close collaboration between cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and exceptional hospital support staff is essential in critical cases."