The Slovenia Times

UKC Ljubljana Proposes Suspending Child Heart Surgeries


According to a report in Tuesday's edition of daily Delo, the UKC Ljubljana hospital made the proposal in a letter sent to Health Minister Milojka Kolar Celarc, along with the paperwork that the international commission reviewing the child heart surgery found to have been missing.

The minister urged UKC Ljubljana to provide the documentation after the commission found 15% of the documents pertaining to child heart surgeries conducted at the hospital between 2007 and 2014 were unaccounted for.

In a letter accompanying the documentation, UKC Ljubljana explained that there was not a single surgeon in Slovenia trained to perform surgery on tiny hearts of children with congenital heart conditions, while the hospital should have at least two surgeons continuously available under the recommendations.

The international guidelines also suggest the child heart surgery centre should admit at least 250 children with a congenital heart disease in need of operation a year, but there were only 88 to 98 such patients in Slovenia a year over the past three years.

These two reasons as well as a lack of material resources are cited by UKC Ljubljana in explanation of its assessment that it cannot implement the recommendations to meet international standards. This is why it proposes suspending the programme, according to Delo.

But UKC believes it would be good to keep operations in Slovenia for the sake of children with congenital heart conditions and for the sake of development of medicine in the country, suggesting partnering with an institution that would "lend" its team for a few years to ensure a round-the-clock service.

Such a cooperation would make it possible to develop a child heart surgery centre at UKC Ljubljana over the next decade that could also treat children from central Europe and the Western Balkans, the hospital wrote in the letter to the minister as reported by Delo.

The Health Ministry has confirmed receiving from the UKC the missing documentation as well as a "vision of the programme implementation in the future", but would not disclose details apart from saying the proposals would be debated by the Health Council, an advisory body, on Wednesday.

The report compiled by an international commission conducting a year-long oversight at UKC Ljubljana, whose findings were released in September, found that the safety of children with congenital heart disease who were treated at the country's leading hospital in 2007-2014 was seriously jeopardised.

Moreover, the incomplete documentation could mean that the data on the mortality rate and number of cases admitted may be distorted, the report also found. The missing documents were also a reason for the police to launch a probe.


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