Heart surgeon Laszlo Fuzesi, M.D., who has performed more than 250 heart transplant operations and headed programs at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in New Jersey and Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., will become co-director of the troubled heart program at Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center.
Fuzesi will join cardiologist Edward Philbin, M.D., as co-director of the Albany Medical heart transplant program, pending program approval by the United Network for Organ Sharing. Approval isn't expected until sometime this fall, according to hospital spokesman Greg McGarry.
Hospital officials hope to reopen the program before Oct. 3, which will be the one-year anniversary of the date the hospital suspended its transplant operations following a program audit.
The New York state health department on June 21 approved Albany Medical's measures meant to ensure that the illness of its heart transplant candidates isn't exaggerated, another major step toward reopening the unit.
In May, the state fined the hospital $18,000 after the state health department noted violations and said transplant surgeon Charles Canver, M.D., exaggerated the severity of the condition of some patients, which moved them up the heart transplant waiting list. Canver's lawyer, E. Stewart Jones, has said his client sent information to the transplant network, but other doctors and nurses compiled it.
The state probe was launched following a routine audit by UNOS last year that found record-keeping discrepancies for the majority of 45 patients listed as most critically in need of a new heart.
The hospital's state-approved correction plan shifts reporting of transplant candidates' conditions from an individual doctor to a committee.