The Veterans Administration said yesterday it is reviewing its national cardiac surgery program in response to concern by several members of Congress about the quality of patient care.
A separate investigation will focus on the Miami VA unit, which was shut after reports that death rates from heart surgery there were twice the national average.
"I am hopeful that over the next several weeks the VA and the independent medical team will get to the source of the serious problems and establish a new and effective course of action," Rep. Daniel A. Mica (D-Fla.) told reporters after he met with Dr. John Ditzler, the VA's chief medical director, about the Miami situation.
Bob Putnam, a spokesman for the VA department of medicine and surgery, said the national review was prompted by Mica and other members of Congress. The survey will be conducted by a team of experts that will include cardiologists and people concerned with medical ethics.
The investigation of the Miami facility was undertaken after a series of articles in the Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) News-Sun Sentinel alleged that the death rate among its heart surgery patients was more than double the VA's national average between 1973 and 1983.