Seven Long Island hospitals were deemed among "America's safest" and two were placed on a "patient safety watch" list in an annual statewide hospital report card.
In the 10th annual report card published Sunday by the Niagara Health Quality Coalition, most of the area's hospitals scored at the state average in up to 27 measures of death rates or patient safety -- such as deaths from stroke or pneumonia or postoperative infections. The report card, which also looked at five measures of patient satisfaction, used data from 2011.
Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow and Plainview Hospital, part of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, were among 17 that the coalition placed on the "patient safety watch" list.
Bruce Boissonnault, chief executive of the nonprofit group based near Buffalo, said the watch list is based on the proportion of "worse" scores -- that is, below the state average -- a hospital received in mortality and patient safety. Conversely, those on the "safest" list were those with the highest proportion of above-average rankings.
Close to a third of the 23 hospitals the coalition designated "safest" were from Long Island: John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson; Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream; Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park; North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset; St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown; St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, and Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola.
Terry Lynam, spokesman for North Shore-LIJ -- which had three hospitals on the "safest" list and one on the "watch" list -- said in an email: "Regardless of how our hospitals are rated in these reports, we use the information so we can continually improve patient safety and quality of care."
Shelley Lotenberg, spokeswoman for Nassau University Medical Center, part of NuHealth, said she "strongly disagrees with the characterization by the Niagara report that we are a 'watchlist' hospital."
"The facts are that NuHealth has been the recipient of numerous national awards for the care it provides, in many areas its care is ranked amongst the best delivered anywhere on Long Island and we expect to continue to deliver the highest quality care to the Island's most vulnerable populations," she said.
Boissonnault said people shouldn't necessarily avoid a "watch list" hospital but should examine results in those clinical areas where they are likely to need care, and talk with their doctors. "These are rare events but if it happens to you, it's 100 percent," he said.
The coalition said that since 2002, when it first began publishing its report card, mortality rates statewide have improved by about 50 percent. Of the 10 hospital error rates the coalition measures, eight have improved, although surgical infection rates continue to worsen, the coalition said.
To look at the report card, go to myhealthfinder.com