Hospitals that perform ventricular assist device surgery as a long-term therapy will receive a certificate of distinction under the Joint Commissions disease-specific care program for VAD care.
A VAD is used to aid a weakened heart ventricle in its pumping action. Originally used on a short-term basis to support failing hearts until a donor heart could be found, the devices are being used more frequently as a long-term therapy for severe heart-failure patients who are not candidates for a heart transplant.
The commission will immediately begin on-site reviews of facilities that apply for VAD certification, which includes standards in program management, care delivery, performance measurement, clinical information systems and VAD-specific requirements. The certification will be valid for two years, with an additional performance-measurement requirement after one year, according to the commission.
Medicare-approved VAD programs have until March 27, 2009 to become certified. The CMS will reimburse for VAD surgery as a long-term therapy when it has been performed at a commission-certified facility. Hospitals that are not currently Medicare-approved will be eligible for CMS reimbursement after they have become certified under the new program. -- by Jean DerGurahian
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