NEWS | December 22, 2015

Left ventricular assist device program at UC Davis receives certification


UC Davis Medical Center has earned certification from The Joint Commission for its left ventricular assist device (LVAD) program, which offers a technological approach to treating advanced heart failure.

The LVAD mechanical pump can be an option for patients with end-stage heart failure (illustration courtesy of Thoratec). The LVAD mechanical pump can be an option for patients with end-stage heart failure (illustration courtesy of Thoratec).

The LVAD is a mechanical pump that takes over some of the work of the heart, restoring blood flow and oxygen levels. The device is surgically implanted below the diaphragm and attached to the left ventricle and aorta, and then powered by two external batteries carried in underarm holsters or waist packs.

Aside from LVAD, there are few options besides heart transplant for patients with end-stage heart failure, a progressive condition that can be caused by heart attacks, long-term high blood pressure, valve defects or genetic conditions. The result is the heart’s inability to pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands, causing weakness, fluid buildup and fatigue.

In achieving the certification, UC Davis underwent a rigorous on-site review for compliance with The Joint Commission’s disease-specific standards for clinical practice, performance, facilities, staffing and volume. The process was led by B. Zane Atkins, cardiothoracic surgeon and director of the LVAD program, and Kathleen Tong, cardiologist and medical director of the LVAD program.

“This recognition indicates the culture of excellence we have created for providing complete, compassionate state-of-the-art cardiovascular care,” said J. Douglas Kirk, chief medical officer for UC Davis Medical Center. “It’s also an important indicator of our deep commitment to offering advanced therapies for improving the lives of patients with heart failure.”

The Joint Commission evaluates health care organizations and inspires them to excel in providing safe, effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more at

UC Davis Medical Center is a leading referral center for high-risk adult and pediatric patients with complex diseases of the heart. UC Davis cardiovascular and cardiothoracic surgery specialists combine extensive experience with the latest technologies and compassionate care to offer complete range of advanced diagnostic and treatment options. For information, visit