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Substitute health insurance: risks from new heart therapy

Substitute health insurance: risks from new heart therapy

New TAVI method harbors dangers to heart patients
28.10.2013

The Association of German Substitute Health Insurance Funds (vdek) warns of the risks through a new procedure for the treatment of patients with a severe narrowing of the aortic valve. Although the "catheter-assisted aortic valve implantation" (TAVI) according to a guideline is actually only to be used in older patients, according to the vdek the number of interventions is increasing rapidly - which means an increased risk for the patients, since many clinics in the event of complications are not equipped accordingly.

TAVI as an alternative for older, weakened patients The replacement health insurance companies warn of health risks due to the relatively new so-called “catheter-assisted aortic valve implantation” (TAVI), in which patients with a narrowing of the aortic valve are introduced by a catheter. This method was developed as a therapy alternative for older, health-impaired patients for whom traditional cardiac aortic valve surgery using the heart-lung machine would be too risky and therefore out of the question.

Number of interventions increases rapidly However, according to the Association of Replacement Funds, there are doubts as to whether the new procedure will actually be used primarily for patients at risk, because the number of TAVI interventions is increasing rapidly, according to Ulrike Elsner, CEO of vdek. The “Hospital Report 2013” ​​had shown an increase in the number of interventions from 529 in 2008 to 9685 in the past year, at the same time the proportion of “classic” surgery with a heart-lung machine decreased from 11,205 (2008) cases 10,324 (2012).

18 hospitals perform surgery without a cardiac surgery department However, the increase in TAVI procedures is “not medically explainable”, as Ulrike Elsner told dpa. Because actually every clinic that wants to offer the method should have a cardiac surgery department in accordance with a quality agreement - in order to be able to immediately initiate life-saving measures in the event of complications. Instead, however, according to the report, last year 18 hospitals carried out the method without a corresponding specialist department, which according to Ulrike Elsner means additional risks for patients with aortic valves that no longer function properly between the heart and main artery.

Improved quality agreement should protect patients For this reason, the replacement health insurers now want to improve the existing agreement on quality assurance for TAVI and adapt it to the current situation: “We want our insured to benefit from new therapy methods such as TAVI. It is important to us that patient safety is guaranteed and that the mandatory quality standards are met in every case. With the quality agreement, the participating hospitals guarantee that our policyholders comply with these requirements, ”says Ulrike Elsner. (No)

Image: Dieter Schütz / pixelio.de

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