“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.
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 mortality, volumes, hospital-acquired conditions 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.
"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:
97.2%Cardiac surgery survival rate
96%Patient survival rate one year after heart transplant
500+Lifesaving heart transplants
Sources: Cardiac surgery: internal data July 2015 through June 2020. Transplant: Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients: July 1, 2018 to March 12, 2020 and June 13, 2020 to December 31, 2020; data released January 2022
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
No cardiopulmonary bypass
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.
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.
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.
In the Heart Institute, we also measure and report what are called “hospital-acquired conditions.” These are complications that patients develop during treatment. Many hospital-acquired conditions are preventable, which is why we continuously work to prevent complications.
One of the risks for kids who need heart surgery is a central line-associated bloodstream infection.
What is a central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI)?
When a patient is in the hospital for heart surgery, we place a small plastic tube called a catheter into the blood vessels near the heart. This is called a central line. Central lines are used to:
Deliver nutritional supplements
Draw blood for blood tests
Monitor blood pressure
Sometimes, bacteria enter a patient’s central line, which means these bacteria can enter the patient’s bloodstream and make the patient sick. This is called a central line-associated bloodstream infection, or CLABSI. The longer patients have a central line, the higher the risk of them getting a CLABSI.
Why do we measure CLABSIs?
Our goal is to never have a bloodstream infection. We measure the CLABSI rate to learn how to prevent them in the future. Our goal is to reduce infection rates, reduce potential complications for our patients and ultimately help kids get better faster.
Recent CLABSI rates at the Heart Institute
We measure CLABSIs in both of our inpatient units, the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) and the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit (CPCU). Heart programs measure and report CLABSI rates by the number of CLABSIs per 1,000 line days.
In 2020, we had an increase in our CLABSI rate despite having good compliance with our prevention bundle. This prompted us to make sure we were performing the basics in the best possible way. We are currently reviewing how we keep patients and dressings as clean as possible and how we can decrease our need to access central lines.
In 2020 in our CICU, our CLABSI rate was 2.52 per 1,000 patient days with 91% compliance with our line-care prevention bundle.
In 2020 in our CPCU, our CLABSI rate was 0.84 per 1,000 patient days with 93% compliance with our line-care prevention bundle.
How are we working to reduce CLABSIs?
Our goal is to constantly and consistently improve. We have several projects in place to reduce the possibility of an infection, including:
Using antibiotics before an operation
Following best practices for inserting and taking care of central lines
Working with colleagues throughout the nation to develop best practices and learn from each other
Additional heart care quality indicators
Aside from CLABSIs, we continue to improve the safety and quality of care by thoughtfully and persistently monitoring other quality indicators. In addition to requiring quality metrics from each team within the Heart Institute, we perform weekly safety walk-arounds, which help parents and staff have a voice identifying needs and directing quality improvement initiatives.
We continue to provide excellent nutrition and closely monitor patients' nutritional health to ensure your child consistently receives the best diet. We have protocols in place to ensure a safe transition to oral feeds.
We measure our daily care bundles and report our compliance to our team and hospital leaders weekly. This helps prevent hospital-acquired illness. Care bundles are techniques and tasks that have been proven to help prevent hospital-acquired conditions.
We continually track our hospital-acquired condition rates and report data on this website at least once per year.
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.
90.1%Families rated their outpatient visits a 9 or a 10 for excellent care
We track patient and family experience by surveying families over the phone and through email. This measure is based on how each patient or family answers the following questions:
"Using any number from 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst facility possible and 10 is the best facility possible, what number would you use to rate this facility?" and
"Using any number from 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst provider possible and 10 is the best provider possible, what number would you use to rate this provider?"
We then report the percentage of families who rated us as a 9 or a 10 on the scale.
A third-party company conducts these surveys on our behalf, and then compiles the patient experience data for our hospital and departments. Learn about how we measure overall patient experience at Children’s Colorado.
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.
If you have any questions about this information, please don't hesitate to contact us by calling 720-777-6820.
Looking for a second opinion?
From heart conditions present at birth to adult congenital heart disease to heart conditions requiring surgery, our pediatric heart experts can provide a second opinion so you feel confident in your child’s care plan.
Children's Hospital Colorado partners with NRC Health to gather star ratings and reviews from patients, residents and family survey data.
This provider either practices in a department or specialty that we currently do not survey, or does not have at least 10 ratings in the last 12 months. Learn more about patient ratings and reviews.
Children's Hospital Colorado providers
Children’s Hospital Colorado providers are faculty members of the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Our specialists are nationally ranked and globally recognized for delivering the best possible care in pediatrics.
Some healthcare professionals listed on our website have medical privileges to practice at Children’s Hospital Colorado, but they are community providers. They schedule and bill separately for their services, and are not employees of the Hospital.