NY State's hospitals ranking results show a mixed bag of reports

Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr
August 12, 2013

The Niagara Health Quality Coalition has been ranking New York state’s hospitals for a decade, and the latest report card released on Sunday shows a mixed bag in upstate New York.

The report card takes millions of data sets from hospitals around the state. From this, it calculates how likely patients are to suffer complications or death undergoing various procedures.

Those hospitals with results above the state average go on the honor roll. Those with several areas below the average are relegated to the watch list.

Upstate University Hospital, a state run teaching hospital in Syracuse is on the 2013 watch list. It scored below the state average in four areas, including stroke mortality.

But hospital CEO Dr. John McCabe says the report card is based on outdated administrative data. He says they look at the report, but don’t break a sweat over it. "The bottom line is it’s a rehash of data that’s out there already; it’s old data. It may not be perfect and probably only partly represents the true care that’s being given."

McCabe adds large state-run teaching hospitals like his face a unique set of challenges. They often take on patients other hospitals won’t or can’t. “At the end of the day we ought to say, none of those should impact how safe our care is for patients. So, while we have challenges, I don’t think they can be excuses.”

Privately run Crouse Hospital also scored poorly in several areas, but managed to avoid making the watch list, barely. St. Joseph’s Hospital was recognized for its above board treatment of heart attacks.

There were mixed reviews in cities across the upstate region.

In Rochester, the city’s Highland Hospital went from being praised as one of ‘America’s Safest Hospitals’ in the 2011 report, to landing on this year’s watch list.

Associate Medical Director of the Highland facility, Richard Magnussen also pointed to the outdated data as a reason for their fall from grace. “We’re being put on the watch list for information that’s somewhat dated, and we do know that we’ve made significant improvements since that time. But we certainly take it seriously, we take it as a challenge and as a stimulus to move forward and do better.”

On the other side of the coin, it was Rochester General Hospital – or RGH - that was ranked as an above-average medical center.

Most of the hospital’s accolades were for its performance in the areas of heart surgery and heart disease treatment.

Dr. Ron Kirshner, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at RGH, says the facility is also preparing to be able to deal with any influx of patients that may occur with the introduction of the Affordable Care Act later this year.“There have been lots of different attempts at changing health care, but one thing we’ve learned, and that is that if you deliver high quality, high efficient care, then no matter what the model is you’ll be successful.”

Patients can access the report cards for their local hospitals online at myhealthfinder.com. But keep in mind that the data presented is not from this year.