Buffalo-area hospitals earn mostly average marks in statewide report card - The Buffalo News

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Buffalo-area hospitals earn mostly average marks in statewide report card

Most Western New York hospitals ranked near the state average on more than two dozen mortality and patient safety indicators, according to a statewide report card to be released today by the Niagara Health Quality Coalition.

None of the local hospitals appeared on the group’s lists for safest hospitals or those that performed the worst.

In all, 22 facilities across the state are on the safest hospital list, including Rochester General Hospital.

Western New York hospitals performed nearly the same as in the past on key quality measures such as deaths from stroke and incidence of post-operative infections.

“There has been progress. The fact that most hospitals are performing at the state average means they are performing at the standard of care, which is pretty good in New York State,” said Bruce A. Boissonnault, president of the coalition.

Nevertheless, one of the conclusions to be drawn from the report card for hospitals here and across the state is that hospitals can do better, Boissonnault said.

“The usefulness of public reporting has not run its course,” he said.

The coalition report card identified what it considers New York’s safest hospitals by evaluating death rates, patient safety indicators, adverse events and their participation in national safety programs.

In its report, for each of the 29 indicators, the coalition awarded a single star to hospitals that performed worse than the state average, two stars to those performing at the state average, and three stars to those that performed better than the state average on mortality and patient measures based on 2011 data.

Among the results:

• Roswell Park Cancer Institute received three stars for deaths of patients who underwent surgical openings of the skull. Mercy and Millard Fillmore hospitals received one star.

• WCA Hospital in Jamestown, Sisters Hospital and Catholic Health’s St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga received one star for heart attack deaths.

• Buffalo General Medical Center and Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston earned three stars for stroke deaths, but Mercy Hospital received one star.

• Mercy and Sisters hospitals in Buffalo received three stars, meaning they did better than the state average, in instances in which newborns were injured during delivery.

• The TLC Health Network/Lake Shore Campus in Irving, Sisters Hospital and Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Amherst received one star for patients who suffered a collapsed lung while in the hospital.

“You would like to see more three stars, but hospitals are making progress toward that,” Boissonnault said.

The report from the Buffalo-based organization noted an improvement in eight of 10 error rates the group tracks, including accidental punctures. But hospital-acquired surgical infection rates, such as sepsis, continued to worsen.

The group reported an average improvement in mortality rates of about 50 percent since its first report in 2002.

The organization also looked at how many procedures hospitals performed. The coalition found a 29 percent reduction in the number of hospitals doing procedures below the number recommended by authorities.

Studies indicate that for some complex procedures, such as heart bypass surgery, patients do better in hospitals where doctors regularly perform the operations. For other procedures, such as cesarean sections, research suggests that they are performed unnecessarily too often.

In 2011, the coalition found that two Buffalo hospitals – Buffalo General and Millard Fillmore Gates Circle – performed well enough to earn a listing among the “safest” medical centers in that year’s statewide report card on hospital quality. One other area hospital – Millard Fillmore Suburban – landed on that report card’s “watch list” for facilities with the highest proportion of below-average ratings on the mortality and patient safety measures.

Officials said it is difficult to draw any trends or larger conclusions from the assortment of scores for Buffalo-area hospitals in the new report card.

Linda Joseph, an attorney and chairwoman of the not-for-profit coalition’s consumer committee, said the report card stands out from other hospital ranking initiatives because it is independent from the health care industry and contains a broad range of risk-adjusted patient data.

“It’s a valuable resource,” she said.

A hospital industry representative said report cards can influence facilities to make improvements and offer consumers guidance in their health care choices but cautioned against using the report cards as the only source of information to make health care choices.

“Hospital report cards can be a positive factor in performance improvement and a small piece of a larger puzzle for consumers trying to choose a hospital. But no report card can capture the full scope of a hospital’s quality and patient safety initiatives, and many are flat-out inaccurate and misleading. One should never base a final decision on a hospital report card alone,” said Brian Conway, spokesman for the Greater New York Hospital Association.

The complete report is available at www.myHealthFinder.com.

email: hdavis@buffnews.com

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