Best Hospitals for Heart Bypass Surgery (CABG)

So your cardiologist recommends heart bypass surgery, or what’s professionally called “coronary artery bypass graft”, or CABG, and you are wondering — which is the best hospital to perform this procedure.

Heart bypass surgery is, of course, major surgery, and there are substantial differences in outcomes from one hospital to another. For example, some hospitals have mortality rates below 1%, while other hospitals have mortality rates higher than 3%. And — do I need to say — mortality rate is just the tip of the iceberg; other complications can arise at higher incidence rates.

As heart bypass surgery is a procedure usually planned a few weeks in advance, you have a chance to choose and travel to the best hospital, within a reasonable distance from your home (make sure your medical insurance covers the hospital you choose).

As opposed to the situation with cancer, research shows that the outcome of heart bypass surgery is NOT always better at a hospital with a larger patient volume. In fact, it turns out that the outcome of heart bypass surgery is closely related to the general rate of medical errors at a hospital: hospitals with a larger number of medical errors have a higher rate of complications after heart bypass surgery. Actually, if you think about it, it’s very reasonable. Heart bypass surgery is a complex procedure and carelessness matters.

The list below ranks major heart hospitals in the nation by our estimate of the complication rate after heart bypass surgery. Regretfully, a few large hospitals (for example, Johns Hopkins) did not provide sufficient data for our evaluation, so they are not included in our list. Notwithstanding, the list includes hospitals in many areas of the country. Hospitals at the top of the list have a low rate of complications, and the potential for complications increases as you go down the list. I personally would be leery of using a hospital that is not in the top 25 on this list.

Rank by fewer complications Hospital
1 St. Thomas Hospital, Nashville
2 Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston
3 Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, Newport Beach, Calif.
4 Christ Hospital, Cincinnati
5 St. Vincent Hospital and Health Center, Indianapolis
6 University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, Ann Arbor
7 Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, Fla.
8 Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
9 Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis
10 Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, Calif.
11 Scripps Green Hospital, La Jolla, Calif.
12 NYU Langone Medical Center, New York
13 New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell
14 Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston