The CMS announced last week an investigation into the deaths of nine babies who underwent open-heart surgery at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The facility instituted its pediatric cardiac surgery program in 2011. A CNN inquiry claimed the mortality rate was 12.5%, three times the national average. It was unclear whether that considered the severity of the cases and other inherent risks.
Experts wondered whether the deaths reflect poor quality or a high mortality rate for pediatric patients with congenital heart defects. Each year, about 40,000 infants are born with heart defects, making it the leading cause of birth defect-associated infant illness and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 25% of infants with the condition need surgery in their first year of life.