Nearly half the heart surgeons statewide whose patients were least likely to die within 30 days following a major procedure work at a Long Island hospital, according to newly released state data.
All of the Long Island doctors received the state Health Department's coveted "double asterisks," in the agency's latest statistical report on cardiac surgery.
The asterisks mean that a doctor's risk-adjusted mortality rate for a procedure is significantly lower, based on sample size, than the statewide rate.
A separate report on angioplasty, also released by state health authorities, did not award any Long Island-based doctors a double asterisk.
"The availability of these reports provides heart patients and their families with a valuable source of information that they can use to make informed decisions," said Dr. Stanley Katz, senior vice president of cardiovascular services for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System.
Issued every three years, the two reports are overseen by a 23-member advisory committee empaneled by the health department. The data provide a detailed assessment of risk-adjusted mortality at hospitals performing invasive cardiac procedures.
The surgery report covers coronary bypass operations and several forms of heart-valve procedures. Between 2007 and 2009, 61,782 cardiac surgeries were performed in 39 hospitals statewide and 162,159 angioplasty procedures were done in 57 hospitals. Five Long Island hospitals performed cardiac surgeries while 10 performed angioplasties.
Thirteen doctors -- six from Long Island -- garnered double asterisks because of risk-adjusted mortality rates well below the state's 3.13 average in cardiac surgery.
Two cardiac surgeons at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, Drs. Alan Hartman and Robert Kalimi, also received double asterisks. Palazzo, according to the data, performed 225 coronary bypass operations over the three-year rating period without a single death.
At St. Francis Hospital in Flower Hill, Drs. James Taylor and Roberto Colangelo also garnered double asterisks for the low number of deaths among their patients. Colangelo performed 620 coronary bypass operations for a risk-adjusted mortality rate of 1.92. Taylor performed 402 procedures, earning a risk-adjusted mortality rate of 1.65.
LIJ is the only hospital statewide to receive the double asterisks for both cardiac surgery and angioplasty.
St. Francis Hospital received double asterisks for angioplasty.
"If you look at the angioplasty statistics you will see that we are the busiest-volume center on Long Island and one of six hospitals in New York with risk-adjusted mortality rates significantly below the statewide average," said Dr. Richard Shlofmitz, chairman of cardiology at St. Francis.
For the first time in a decade, Shlofmitz noted St. Francis as an institution did not receive double asterisks in cardiac surgery. He attributed their absence to a marked increase in the number of difficult cardiac cases seen at the hospital.
"Many institutions are worried about doing difficult cases," Shlofmitz said. "But we don't turn those people down. We don't turn down anyone."
HIGHLIGHTS OF NYS PANEL'S REPORT
2007-09 cases of angioplasties and valve-cardiac artery bypass performed at some LI hospitals and the risk-adjusted mortality rate (RAMR) for each procedure. Lower RAMRs are better than higher ones.
VALVE-CARDIAC ARTERY BYPASS GRAFT SURGERY
LONG ISLAND JEWISH MEDICAL CENTER: 676 cases, 2.81 RAMR**
NORTH SHORE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: 1,406 cases, 3.98 RAMR
ST. FRANCIS HOSPITAL: 1,910 cases, 4.25 RAMR
STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: 540 cases, 5.51 RAMR
WINTHROP-UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: 534 cases, 6.77 RAMR
GOOD SAMARITAN HOSPITAL MEDICAL CENTER: 1,227 cases, 1.31 RAMR
HUNTINGTON HOSPITAL: 197 cases, 0.57 RAMR
LONG ISLAND JEWISH MEDICAL CENTER: 5,642 cases, 0.62 RAMR**
NORTH SHORE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: 6,779 cases, 0.78 RAMR
ST. FRANCIS HOSPITAL: 8,703 cases, 0.67 RAMR**
SOUTH NASSAU COMMUNITIES HOSPITAL: 1,237 cases, 1.08 RAMR
SOUTHSIDE HOSPITAL: 1,693 cases, 1.12 RAMR
STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: 5,233 cases, 0.98 RAMR
WINTHROP-UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: 3,355 cases, 0.89 RAMR
NOTE: ** Risk adjusted mortality rate significantly lower than statewide rate. The RAMR is partially calculated by dividing the number of patients who died by the total number of patients. That figure is then divided by the predicted or expected mortality rate.
SOURCE: New York State Department of Health