Top heart surgeons

Our ratings reveal 27 'all-star' practices, some in surprising places

Published: April 2012

To find a world-class heart surgeon you don’t necessarily have to go to a world-famous heart-surgery group.

That’s the conclusion of our newly updated ratings of practices that perform heart-bypass surgery, which was done in partnership with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. That organization maintains an unparalleled heart-surgery database that includes information on measures such as survival rates, complications, proper medication use, and optimal surgical technique. Practices are then given a one, two, or three star rating, depending on how they scored. Our analysis includes heart-surgery practices that voluntarily report their scores and allow them to be published in our ratings.

Only 27 of these groups nationwide have earned three stars for all three of the years that we’ve worked with the Society to produce the ratings. Among them are the ESSA Heart and Vascular Institute in East Stroudsburg, Pa., the Prairie Heart Institute at St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Ill., and Wellmont Cardiology Services in Bristol, Tenn.

"Those are hardly household names, but the data suggest they consistently provide outstanding care," said John Santa, M.D., director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.

Residents of Erie, Pa. (population 101,786) and Winston-Salem, N.C. (population 229,617) have their choice of two practices that achieved the feat. None of the most populated 16 American cities are home to even one, and 36 states lack a practice that earned the highest rating in each of the three years we've been rating them.

Three stars, three years running

Below is our list of the 27 practices that received three stars three years in a row. Our current ratings include 363 groups in 44 states that perform heart-bypass surgery—about a third of the 1,000 such groups nationwide. For more information, see the complete ratings and our advice on how to prevent and treat heart disease. The groups are arranged alphabetically, within state.

'All-star' heart-surgery groups Hospital affiliation
Colorado Exempla Front Range Cardiac & Thoracic Surgeons, Denver
Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital
District of Columbia
Department of Cardiac Surgery, Washington Hospital Center Washington Hospital Center
Florida Munroe Heart, Ocala Munroe Regional Medical Center
Winter Haven Hospital Bostick Heart Center
Winter Haven Hospital
Illinois Prairie Heart Institute at St. John's Hospital, Springfield
St. John's Hospital
Maryland Union Memorial Hospital, Baltimore
Union Memorial Hospital
Massachusetts Boston University Cardiac and Thoracic Surgical Foundation Inc.
Boston Medical Center
Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge
Mount Auburn Hospital
North Shore Medical Center, Salem
North Shore Medical Center
Michigan Cardiothoracic Surgeons of Grand Traverse, Traverse City Munson Medical Center
Minnesota CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center, St. Cloud St. Cloud Hospital
Twin Cities Heart and Lung Clinic, Coon Rapids Mercy Hospital
Nebraska Nebraska Heart Hospital, Lincoln Nebraska Heart Hospital
New Jersey The Valley Columbia Heart Center, Ridgewood The Valley Hospital
New York Active International Cardiovascular Institute at Good Samaritan Hospital, Suffern Good Samaritan Hospital
North Carolina Asheville Heart, PA Mission Hospital
Forsyth Cardiac and Vascular Surgeons, Winston-Salem Forsyth Medical Center
Hawthorne Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons, Charlotte Presbyterian Hospital
Wake Forest University Physicians – Cardiothoracic Surgery, Winston-Salem Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Pennsylvania ESSA Heart and Vascular Institute, East Stroudsburg Pocono Medical Center
Main Line Cardiothoracic Surgeons – Lankenau Hospital, Wynnewood
Lankenau Medical Center
McGinnis Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgical Associates, Monroeville Western Pennsylvania Hospital, Forbes Regional Campus
Saint Vincent Cardiovascular Surgery, Erie Saint Vincent Health Center
UPMC Hamot Flagship CVT Surgeons, Erie UPMC Hamot
South Carolina Providence Hospitals, Columbia Sisters of Charity Providence Hospital
Tennessee Cardiovascular Associates, Kingsport Wellmont Holston Valley Medical Center
Wellmont Cardiology Services, Bristol Wellmont Bristol Regional Medical Center

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