To boost transplant patient survival rates, Dr Mark Zucker and his team have allegedly been keeping vegetative patients on life support for an entire year without family consent according to a recent investigation by ProPublica. For hospitals that have organ transplant programs, the patient survival rate is the most important number tracked by the US Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. If a hospital has a “one year survival rate” falling bellow an expected number calculated by an algorithm, an audit might be launched by the agency. If the audit uncovers serious problems, the transplant program can potentially loose its Medicare certification. As a result the hospital would loose the procedures paid by Medicare and by some medicaid and private insurance plans that only reimburse for transplants at Medicare approved transplant programs. A hospital charges around 1.4 million for a heart transplant.
Newark Beth Israel advertises itself as one of the best heart and lung transplant hospitals in the country. For 30 years, Dr Mark Zucker has been leading the heart and lung transplant program. His heart transplant surgeon, Dr. Margarita Camacho, has been performing most of the heart surgeries since 2005. She developed a strong and successful reputation as a heart transplant surgeon, travelling in person to donors hospitals to inspect the facility and the donor’s heart before traveling back to Beth Israel with the organ.