Two new state reports on heart procedures performed at New York hospitals reveal superior achievements at one Long Island center and generally strong, consistent outcomes for patients at a majority of local institutions.
The reports, released earlier this week, cover surgeries and angioplasties done from 2011 to 2013. A panel of two dozen experts, many from outside New York, analyzed reams of data on individual hospitals, doctors and patient outcomes.
“These statistics are an important tool in making informed health care choices,” Dr. Howard Zucker, New York Health Commissioner said.
For more than 20 years, the State Health Department has analyzed how individual hospitals and doctors have fared in coronary bypass surgery. For the past 16 years, the state has examined hospitals and doctors performing angioplasty, a procedure in which a catheter is threaded through a vessel in the leg or wrist to secure an artery-opening stent to restore the heart’s blood flow.
The massive reports cover 47,150 adult open-heart surgeries at 40 hospitals statewide and 145,247 angioplasties performed at 61 institutions.
For the first time, the angioplasty report also includes data on TAVR — transcatheter valve replacement — a relatively new technique in which a healthy pig or cow valve is implanted over a patient’s damaged aortic valve. The procedure treats a condition known as aortic stenosis.
Key parameters addressed in both reports are risk-adjusted mortality, which means how many patients died after a procedure and the risk-adjusted readmission rate, which means how many patients returned to the hospital within a month of undergoing a procedure.
Long Island Jewish Medical Center demonstrated superior outcomes for patients who underwent the repair or replacement of a heart valve during coronary bypass surgery. LIJ’s cardiothoracic surgery program, which has since combined with the one at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, also ranked as one of only three hospitals statewide to receive the coveted “double asterisks,” the health department’s grading equivalent to an A+.
North Shore University Hospital and LIJ are part of the Northwell Health system.
Dr. S. Jacob Scheinerman, who chaired cardiothoracic surgery at LIJ during the reporting period, had the lowest statistically significant risk-adjusted mortality rate of any surgeon in the state. He individually received double asterisks.
Dr. Barry Kaplan, who chairs cardiology at Northwell Health, and in the past has been a double-asterisk recipient, said the state’s watchdog approach to cardiac care aids hospital performance. The dense numerical data, however, may be difficult for some consumers to digest, he said.
“The way the statistics are presented needs to be interpreted and it may be very difficult for some consumers to do that,” Kaplan said of the data, which are available to the public on the state health department’s website.
Ten hospitals, half on Long Island had risk-adjusted rates that were higher than the statewide average for patients who returned to the hospital within 30 days after angioplasty. Those hospitals include Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip; LIJ; Southside Hospital in Bay Shore; St. Catherine of Siena in Smithtown, and Stony Brook University Hospital.
Dr. Kevin Marzo, chief of cardiology at Winthrop-University Hospital, said it’s important to understand that statistics in the reports represent extremely diverse patient populations.
“The data that’s recorded includes both elective and emergency procedures,” Marzo said. “Some patients have multiple medical problems and some procedures are performed during a heart attack.
“This information explains how hospitals as a whole are doing and even how individual operators [doctors] are doing. It gives a little transparency to consumers,” he said.
The majority of Long Island centers that perform sophisticated cardiac procedures fared well in the reports.
St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, which had solid marks across a spectrum of parameters, had no comment about the reports Friday, according to a spokeswoman, because doctors there have not fully combed through the data.