“In May, the state attorney general’s office issued an opinion that said
UK must release mortality rates and other data about the cardiothoracic
surgery program to WUKY, the university-owned radio station,” Blackford reports. “UK has
acknowledged that it calculated mortality rates for the program as part
of its investigation, but has refused to release them, citing patient
confidentiality laws.” The Herald-Leader also requested the information under the Kentucky Open Records Act.
The three-year span includes the tenure of ardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Mark Plunkett, who no longer works at UK. Jennifer Allen, whose one-year-old daughter died after having three surgeries performed by Dr. Plunkett, wrote on the petition, “We deserve to know this information, we CAN understand and comprehend
this information. It is our right to know and the right of the public!” Allen’s daughter suffered from hypoplastic left heart syndrome, where the left side of the
heart is underdeveloped and can’t pump blood properly. Allen told Blackford she finds it “very suspicious” that UK won’t release the information. UK says there were so few surgeries at times that patients’ identities could be deduced.
Tabitha Rainey, whose son survived cardiothoracic surgery at UK, before being moved to another hospital, started the petition after being interviewed by CNN, which reported on the issue over the weekend and updated its story today with news of the petition. She said she doesn’t accept UK’s response that publicly releasing mortality rates would somehow harm patient confidentiality, telling Blackford, “There are no names and no dates, just the data on how many have passed on.” (Read more)