When cardiologist Daniel Ortiz, MD, was a resident at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, one of his patients passed away after having a procedure called a peripheral vascular intervention, or PVI. The procedure opens up blocked arteries in a person’s legs, but about 11% of patients are at high risk for complications like internal bleeding, which can cause death. That’s what happened to Dr. Ortiz’s patient, and it led him to the next phase of his career: research.
“I wanted to see how that could be avoided,” explained Dr. Ortiz. “There were no tools to identify high risk patients at the time.”
Dr. Ortiz received the first Sullivan Cardiac Research Award for Residents and Fellows in 2014, which was made possible by a generous $1 million donation from Vivian and Tim Sullivan of Milwaukee. Because of the award, he and a team of cardiovascular physicians and a biostatistician were able to develop a way to identify patients in the high risk category. The tool itself is a specific set of criteria that a nurse has to assess before a patient has a PVI. It’s something that doctors at Aurora St. Luke’s are using right now with great success.
“It’s saving lives,” said Dr. Ortiz. “There’s nowhere else in the world where this tool exists, and we couldn’t have done it without donor support.”
His research is earning praise from his colleagues as well.
“I’ve worked on more than 100 research projects, and out of all of them, Dr. Ortiz’s PVI research had the best patient-centered outcome and one of the best publications,” said Maharaj Singh, PhD, principal biostatistician at Aurora Research Institute. “It was wonderful working with him and I’m very proud of the research he has done and is currently working on.”
Now Dr. Ortiz is planning to present his findings at a national conference in October, and he’s hoping his research will help physicians and patients across the country.
“This is groundbreaking because this tool didn’t exist before; no one thought it was possible because there are so many ways this surgery can be done, and every patient is different,” said Dr. Ortiz. “But our method works, and it’s already saving lives.”