Three Long Island hospitals were among 11 statewide to receive the top rating in a national analysis of patient safety, while three other Island hospitals got the second-lowest score.
The Leapfrog Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that focuses on hospital quality and safety, awarded A ratings to Mather Hospital and St. Charles Hospital, both in Port Jefferson, and St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn.
Long Island Community Hospital in Patchogue, Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre and Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow got D scores. Two hospitals statewide received Fs; neither is on Long Island.
Patients at D or F hospitals have a 92 percent higher risk of “avoidable death” — deaths that occur because of “avoidable medical errors” — compared with those at “A” hospitals, according to an analysis done for Leapfrog by the Johns Hopkins University Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety.
Medication errors, such as patients being given the wrong medication or the wrong dosage, are the most common mistakes in hospitals, said Erica Mobley, Leapfrog’s director of operations.
“Even in A hospitals, mistakes happen,” she said.
But those highly rated hospitals tend to have more procedures in place to prevent errors, such as computerized systems that flag when, for example, a nurse is about to accidentally give a child an adult dosage of a medication, she said.
Mather and St. Francis have the most consistently high scores on Long Island, getting 13 As during the 15 reporting periods since the Leapfrog rating system debuted in 2012.
Dr. Joan Faro, senior vice president and chief medical officer of Mather, said the hospital has multiple layers in its policies to prevent mistakes. Every mistake is analyzed to determine if new procedures, retraining or other initiatives could prevent future errors, she said.
And, she said, “We scrutinize every near miss with as much vigor as we do actual occurrences,” so if a nurse notices that a patient with a name that is the same or similar to that of another patient is about to receive the wrong medication, the hospital analyzes what caused the mix-up.
The Long Island hospital with the most consistently poor scores in recent years is Long Island Community, which has received five Ds and an F since the fall of 2014, Mobley said.
Long Island Community released a statement that said “the methodology in this survey penalizes hospitals that have fewer patients, are located in low-income communities, and fully comply by providing complete data.”
The hospital has made safety improvements in recent years that include weekly patient safety meetings, improved coding and stronger oversight, the statement said.
Mobley said in response that Leapfrog “uses data publicly available at the national level” and that, regardless of financial circumstances, hospitals should have good safety procedures in place.
One of the hospitals that has the largest proportion of low-income patients on the Island, Nassau University Medical Center, the county’s public hospital, received four As in a row as recently as 2014 and 2015. Scores dropped to a C from 2016 through the spring of 2018, and to a D in the fall of 2018 and the spring of 2019.
“That’s a really significant downward trend in performance,” Mobley said. “That’s definitely something really to be concerned about. That A wasn’t a fluke. They got four in a row, but have gotten steadily worse since then.”
A Nassau University spokesman wasn’t able to provide a hospital official for comment.
Only 7.5 percent of New York State hospitals received As, far below the 32 percent of A grades nationally.
The state consistently ranks low in the number of As, a reflection, Mobley said, of how “there has not been a statewide focus on patient safety as there should be.”
A 10-member expert panel that includes doctors from major medical schools and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helps Leapfrog develop a scoring methodology and decides on the factors to measure.
HOSPITAL SAFETY RANKINGS
To find out how a hospital fared in the Leapfrog Group ratings, go to https://www.hospitalsafetygrade.org
On Long Island:
- 3 hospitals received a score of A
- 5 hospitals received Bs
- 12 hospitals received Cs
- 3 hospitals received Ds
SOURCE: The Leapfrog Group