LI hospitals don't fare well in Consumer Reports ratings

Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola received the "worse"

Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola received the "worse" rating from Consumer Reports. (July 29, 2013) (Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas)

No Long Island hospitals received a top rating and five received "worse" ratings from Consumer Reports for elective surgeries.

In its September issue out Thursday, the magazine measured the percentage of Medicare patients scheduled for surgery who died in the hospital or stayed longer than expected in close to 2,500 hospitals nationwide, including 109 in New York. It looked at results for 27 kinds of scheduled surgeries, which it calculated into an overall rating for each hospital.

Glen Cove Hospital, John T. Mather Memorial Hospital and St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, Plainview Hospital and Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola received the "worse" rating.


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Top-rated hospitals in New York included Mount Sinai Hospital, NYU Langone Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, all in Manhattan, and Kenmore Mercy Hospital in upstate Kenmore.

Consumer Reports online also showed how hospitals rated for five specific surgeries: knee replacements, hip replacements, back surgery, angioplasty and carotid artery surgery. The publication said it found that scoring high in one procedure was "no guarantee of success in others." It cited St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, which got a "highest" rating for angioplasty and a "worse" rating for carotid artery surgery.

Hospitals questioned Consumer Reports' methodology.

The publication relied on claims data -- not medical records -- and looked at length of stay for people 65 and older. Dr. John Santa, medical director for Consumer Reports Health, said length of stay is an indirect but reliable measure of adverse events or complications that occur when someone comes into the hospital for an elective -- not emergency -- surgery.

But Dr. Jack Soterakis, medical director at St. Francis, said that "billing data doesn't correlate with quality" and the length of stay is not a surrogate for complications, especially when many patients come to a place like St. Francis for multiple procedures.

Winthrop spokesman J. Edmund Keating said it was "unfortunate" that Consumer Reports based its findings "by utilizing only partial data and their own methodology, which weights different factors based on their own judgment."

"Their findings are not based on all of the measures that the medical industry and hospital monitors normally rely on," he said.

Terry Lynam, spokesman for North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, which includes Glen Cove and Plainview, said that "whenever information contained in the various 'hospital report cards' identifies a quality issue, we are already aware of it and working aggressively to resolve it."

Santa said Consumer Reports used claims data because it is publicly available. "Our critics are going to say medical records are better," he said. "We say 'give us the data then.' "U.S. News & World Report two weeks ago rated several Long Island hospitals among the best in the region, state and nation. St. Francis Hospital was ranked the best on Long Island. Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park was next highest among Island hospitals in the region, in 11th place.

North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset and Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola tied for 16th in the metro area. Stony Brook University Hospital was 21st, Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip was 23rd and Huntington Hospital was 25th.

Nationally, there were some surprises. Massachusetts General Hospital, named the nation's top hospital by U.S. News & World Report two weeks ago, scored in the "worse" category, as did Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. The Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, top rated in orthopedics by U.S. News, was also rated in the "worse" category.

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