Children's Hospital Colorado

Pediatric Cardiology Quality and Patient Safety

We are one of the largest programs in the country treating patients with heart problems from before birth through adulthood, with exceptional outcomes.

Best Children's Hospital by U.S. News & World Report Cardiology 2021-2 Badge

“Do research before making decisions to seek care at another hospital outside of your community or state. Talk to the physicians and other medical staff who will be caring for your child. These prenatal conversations along with extensive research is what led us to choose Children’s Colorado for our son's serious heart condition.”

— Heart warrior mom

Quality and patient safety at the Heart Institute

It’s an honor to care for your child and your family. Every day, our pediatric cardiology team works diligently to ensure that your child has access to safe and effective treatments in a family-centered environment.

In the Heart Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado, we routinely track and report important quality and patient safety metrics to ensure that patient families have an inside view into how we perform. We also publicly report and compare our outcomes with other top pediatric heart centers. Transparency with our patients and colleagues is one of the keys to our success as a top pediatric hospital.

As the largest pediatric heart program in the region, we have performed more than 500 heart surgeries and about 1,000 heart catheterization procedures every year since 2017. Our highly specialized pediatric heart surgeons and interventional cardiologists take on the most complex congenital heart defects (CHDs) and childhood heart conditions and achieve some of the best results in the nation. The Society of Thoracic Surgery requires a hospital to perform at least 250 heart surgeries per year to be considered a high-volume center. By far exceeding this, we gain more experience, which leads to better outcomes.

Why experience and transparency matter

When your child needs heart surgery, you want the best pediatric heart surgeons to treat them. But how do you know who’s the best?

All pediatric heart centers keep track of how many operations they perform and how many patients survive these surgeries – but many centers do not share their statistics with the public.

Here at the Heart Institute, we believe in empowering families by providing statistics on survival, volumes and patient satisfaction scores up front. Providing this information is not only the right thing to do, it pushes our team to get better and better. It also gives you peace of mind.

Dunbar Ivy, MD at Children's Hospital Colorado.
"We're transparent about our results so that parents can make informed decisions about their child's care. I’m proud to be part of a team that adheres to this level of openness and accountability."
Dunbar Ivy, MD

Children’s Colorado is the only pediatric heart center in Colorado and one of few in the region to share quality metrics and outcomes data. We make this information available here on this website and also report to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and Conquering CHD's family-friendly Hospital Navigator.

Our cardiac surgery and transplant outcomes

The most serious heart conditions typically require open heart surgery or a heart transplant. If your child needs surgery, the most important quality and patient safety metrics are called “outcomes.” (Essentially, success rates.)

At Children’s Colorado, our cardiac surgery and heart transplant outcomes are among the best in the country:

Cardiac surgery source: Society of Thoracic Surgeons data from July 2017 through June 2021. Society of Thoracic Surgery (STS) has the largest congenital heart surgery database and includes data from 103 North American hospitals. Data taken from the 2021 risk-adjusted report. Heart transplant source: Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) data released July 2022: Single-organ transplants performed between January 1, 2019 and March 12, 2020 and June 13, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

See the complete list of our pediatric cardiac surgery outcomes and pediatric heart transplant outcomes.

Cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology volumes

Another important measure of success for a hospital’s pediatric cardiology program is volume, which is the number of surgeries or procedures the hospital performs each year. Performing a higher number of procedures (higher volume) means that the team has more experience with these operations. Studies have shown that this experience correlates to better patient outcomes.

Reference the charts below to learn the number of surgeries and minimally invasive procedures we’ve performed since 2016.

Cardiac surgery volume

Cardiac surgery volume indicates the number of heart surgeries performed at a hospital. More complex surgeries require surgeons to use cardiopulmonary bypass, a machine that does the work of the heart and lungs while they repair the heart.

Heart surgeries at Children’s Colorado

Operation type 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Cardiopulmonary bypass 338 326 376 373 386
No cardiopulmonary bypass 118 121 134 192 191
Other 57 68 87 118 101
Total 513 515 597 683 678

Our heart surgeons perform more than 500 surgeries per year, making the Heart Institute at Children’s Colorado a high-volume center with vast experience treating even the most serious CHDs.

Cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology procedure volume

Thanks to research and innovation, our team can now treat many defects that used to require surgery with a minimally invasive procedure called cardiac catheterization. Our electrophysiology team can also treat many heart rhythm issues (called arrhythmias) in the electrophysiology lab. The charts below show our team’s vast and growing experience performing these procedures.

Total cardiac catheterizations including electrophysiology interventions

Total electrophysiology interventions

These volumes indicate that our interventional cardiology team has experience treating hundreds of kids, teens and adults with heart disease each year.

As a high-volume center, our cardiology team treats a wide variety of congenital defects and pediatric heart conditions. This means that children and teens who come to the Heart Institute for treatment have a team that’s seen and treated their condition before, even if it’s rare.

"We think it’s important for families to know our outcomes and be able to ask any question about our experience with their child’s particular diagnosis."
James Jaggers, MD

Quality in cardiac imaging

Our imaging team provides state-of-the-art images that help our providers understand the medical and surgical needs of every patient. Our advanced capabilities include:

We continuously monitor image quality and accuracy. One way we do it: comparing the echocardiography images to what the surgeon sees in the operating room.

Minor discrepancies mean that a minor anomaly, shunt or cardiac mass that would not affect patient care was not detected in imaging. The major discrepancies definition means that a major anomaly, shunt or cardiac mass that would affect patient care was not detected before surgery.

HI-160112485-2021-03-Pediatric-Cardiology-Quality- Updates-04-FIN.jpg

Since 2016, less than 6% of all cardiac images taken in the Heart Institute have had minor discrepancies, and less than 1% have had major discrepancies. Our imaging team is helping set national standards for quality in pediatric heart imaging.

Patient experience

In the Heart Institute, our goal is to provide excellent care for both patients and their families. One way we measure this is by recording and reporting patient satisfaction scores.

92.8% Families rated their outpatient visits a 9 or a 10 for excellent care

Additional resources

We’re committed to providing information and resources before, during and after your visit to the Heart Institute. Visit the links below to learn more.

Contact us

If you have any questions about this information, please don't hesitate to contact us by calling 720-777-6820.