Release Of Kentucky Children's Hospital Mortality Numbers Doesn't Resolve Legal Dispute

Aug 9, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The push to have UK release the mortality numbers began in late 2012 when the university denied an open records request by former WUKY reporter Brenna Angel. Still, despite the release of mortality rate data Friday, the matter remains tied up in court.

Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Mark Plunkett
Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Mark Plunkett

Angel originally requested the number of surgeries performed by Kentucky Children’s Hospital chief heart surgeon Dr. Mark Plunkett between 2010 and 2012, the date of Plunkett’s last surgery, and the payments received for the procedures – along with the mortality rates related to the operations and details on an internal review of the pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program.

When UK declined to release the recent surgery and patient mortality rate data, Angel appealed the decision to the Attorney General, who sided with her. UK responded with a lawsuit.

On August 4th, CNN picked up the story, interviewing UK Healthcare CEO Michael Karpf.

"Most of our patients want to come in and they want be sure that we're committed to doing the very best for them. Most of them would have a hard time understanding data. Data is a complicated issue," Karpf said.

National coverage prompted renewed interest in the story and an online petition asking UK to release the mortality numbers.

Plunkett has since resigned to take a job at the University of Florida, but following the CNN story, the university says it is still reviewing Plunkett’s application.