A recent report by the NHS (Britain’s National Health Service) recommends that several facilities that currently offer pediatric heart surgery to be consolidated into larger centers. Of the eleven children’s heart surgical programs currently operating, it has been recommended that at least four be closed. As you could expect, not everyone is thrilled with this idea. The Patient’s Association is concerned about travel distance and the stress on families that such a consolidation will bring.
I can understand their worry – I’ve done that myself. Going to Birmingham Alabama for heart surgery is scary, when you live in South Carolina. My Adult Congenital Heart checkups require an overnight trip to Atlanta. But overall the consolidation would be a good thing.
As I have often said, The doctors I need do not practice in small towns. I have a complex Congenital Heart Defect, and not just anybody can understand my healthcare needs. If I were to go to my local community hospital (130 beds) for heart surgery, I would come out in a box. It’s that simple. And not because the staff didn’t care, or didn’t do their best, but because they would be overwhelmed.They don’t have the experience needed to handle me.
So the idea of having just a few locations where they specialize in cardiac surgery makes a lot of sense. After all, it isn’t just the surgeon who needs experience – Everyone from Pre-Op through the surgical procedure and on to Recovery is an important piece of the puzzle. What good is having the world’s best surgeon if the nurses working in the Recovery Room can’t even get an IV started?
Repetition builds confidence and skill. Learn how to do a procedure, and keep doing it… and do it correctly, each and every time. Constantly review procedures to learn how to improve them, what to do if things go wrong (and they will go wrong, sooner or later!) Studies have proven that surgical experience can lead to even more positive outcomes. And a 2004 study proved that one of the best ways to learn how to detect heart murmurs is through repetition. The study suggests 500 repetitions of learning 4 basic heart murmurs.
The key to doing any task well is 1) Do it often; and 2) do it right. Consolidating surgical centers will allow that to happen.