For the third consecutive year, the Center for Heart & Vascular Health at Christiana Care Health System has received the highest designation given to hospitals - a 3-star rating for quality of heart surgery - from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS).

(Logo: STS has established a comprehensive rating system that compares the quality of heart surgery among hospitals across the county. Medical professionals widely regard the rating as the gold standard by which to evaluate heart surgery programs.

Analyzing data from July 2010 to June 2011, the Society awarded Christiana Care its highest rating, the coveted three stars. Fewer than 15 percent of the heart programs in the nation achieved this level in the survey. Christiana Care is one of 1,007 participants in the STS database.

Christiana Care has a high-volume heart surgery program. Data from STS shows that Christiana Care performs more than twice as many heart surgery procedures than the national average.

"We are honored to receive the 3-star rating from STS," says Timothy Gardner, M.D., medical director and past national president of the American Heart Association. "Our higher surgical volumes, combined with increasingly complex and challenging conditions in patients being operated on here, account for our leadership position among heart surgery programs nationally." "We attribute our top national rating to the excellent work of our entire medical team," says Michael Banbury, M.D., the W. Samuel Carpenter III Distinguished Chair of Cardiovascular Surgery at Christiana Care. "Everyone here is on the same page - focused on clinical quality and outcomes." Christiana Care's heart surgery program includes a partnership with Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, Del. Combined, the programs performed more than 800 open-heart surgeries last year.

The methodology for the STS comprehensive ratings system involves gathering data on 11 separate quality standards for patient care during and following coronary artery bypass graft surgery. The standards are comprehensive and broad-based and cover medical care before surgery, operative care, care following surgery and patient outcome. Together, these data form a composite score used to determine a hospital's overall cardiothoracic clinical performance.

Founded in 1964, the STS is a not-for-profit organization representing almost 6,400 surgeons, researchers and allied health care professionals worldwide who are dedicated to ensuring the best possible outcomes for surgeries of the heart, lung, and esophagus, as well as other surgical procedures within the chest.

Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link. Timothy Gardner, M.D. SOURCE Christiana Care Health System -0- 02/27/2012 /Web Site: CO: Christiana Care Health System; Society of Thoracic Surgeons ST: Delaware IN: HEA MTC SU: SVY NPT PRN -- DC59574 -- 0000 02/27/2012 23:00:00 EDT http://www.prnewswire.c