Temple University Hospital said Wednesday that it would voluntarily inactivate its heart-transplant program on July 8 because of low patient volume.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health had recently cited the heart program for failing to meet federal volume standards. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services require hospitals to perform 10 transplants of each type per year to help maintain quality. Temple has averaged five heart transplants a year, according to a state report.
The four patients currently on Temple's heart-transplant list have been notified of the change. "We're working very closely with them to make sure they can transfer to a program of their choosing," hospital spokeswoman Rebecca Harmon said.
Temple voluntarily inactivated its lung-transplant program May 27 because, it said, of the departure of its primary lung-transplant surgeon.
Based on data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, a government database, the Health Department recently said that Temple's lung- and kidney-transplant programs had lower-than-expected one-year survival rates for grafts, or the transplanted organs. Patients may still be alive if they receive another organ.
In August, the state said that the lung program had lower-than-expected one-year patient and graft survival rates for patients transplanted between Jan. 1, 2007, and June 30, 2009.
Harmon said Temple had no plans to discontinue kidney or liver transplants.
The shutdown of the heart program is temporary, Harmon said. She said Temple's new chief of cardiothoracic surgery, T. Sloane Guy, would work closely with cardiology chief Jose Missri to recruit staff and rebuild the program.
Once the city's dominant heart-transplant program, Temple is now overshadowed by the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which did 61 heart transplants last year. Hahnemann University Hospital and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital each did 11 heart transplants last year, according to the hospitals.
Transplant experts say volume is important because transplants require highly complex, coordinated care.
Temple cardiac specialists will continue to care for cardiac patients with the full range of treatments, including ventricular-assist devices, Harmon said.