Pediatric Cardiac Intensivists

MD News spoke with the physicians of Pediatric Cardiac Intensivists about what they see in the future for the health care industry.

Q: What is the most significant change you have seen in health care in the last decade?
A: In our field of pediatric cardiology, it is the improvement in survival of congenital heart lesions previously deemed fatal. For example, children born with only one cardiac pumping chamber (normally everyone has two) used to have a dismal chance for survival. Now, those same children have approximately a 90% chance of living through staged heart surgeries into young adulthood.

Q: What do you think is going to be the most surprising health care development that is on the horizon?
A: Relative to congenital heart care, I think it will be the development of medical therapies to protect the brain from injury during heart surgery and periods of poor circulation. This will lead to better overall survival and developmental/behavioral outcomes for children with heart problems.

Q: What do you wish someone had told you about being involved in health care?
A: I wish I had been told about the absolute necessity for, and tremendous satisfaction of, working with a multidisciplinary team to deliver care to children with complex cardiac disease. There is no substitute for the support provided by a dedicated group of pediatric professionals. No one group (doctors, nurses, nutritionists, respiratory therapists, social workers, child life specialists, etc.) can achieve optimal results for patients and families without input from the others.

Q: Why are you so passionate about health care?
A: We work with a population that is very vulnerable and has a lifetime of living ahead. If we can use our expertise wisely, we can make a significant and lasting difference in the health of a child and family, which will allow them to have years of high-quality time together. Few careers offer the opportunity for that type of profound contribution to those around you.

Q: What aspect of modern clinical care has made a great difference in the lives of your patients?
A: In pediatric cardiology, the development over the last 10 to 12 years of specialized cardiac intensive care units for children with medical and surgical heart problems has radically transformed patient outcomes, just as the expansion of coronary care units did for adults several decades ago. Pediatric cardiac units are marked by highly specialized and dedicated physicians, nurses and multidisciplinary staff, and an environment that provides state-of-the-art cardiac equipment and facilities. This degree of clinical focus has facilitated the development of life-saving programs and interventions for children with congenital heart disease. In turn, the death rate associated with treatment of pediatric heart problems, especially those addressed in the newborn period, has dropped precipitously.

MD News Future of Health Care 2011, Dallas/Ft Worth


1 comment for “Pediatric Cardiac Intensivists”

  1. Gravatar of ChanelChanel
    Posted Friday, September 02, 2011 at 1:30:03 PM

    My daughter was born with hypoplastic right heart and also pulminary stenosis and tricuspid atresia. I want to say thank you to all of the individuals fighting to keep our children alive. We are from Wisconsin and are greatful to have had a great surgeon and medical team to follow us. My daughter has had 2 of her surgeries, is 14 months old, and doing great. Although we have a long road ahead of us filled with no guarantees we will forever owe the time we get to spend with our sweet angel to people like yourselves.


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