New York City-area hospitals performed worse on overall patient safety than many other hospitals around the country, results of a recent study published in Consumer Reports indicate.

Among the 50 lowest-scoring hospitals nationwide, 30 are in New York City and adjoining communities in Westchester County, Long Island and New Jersey. The scores were assigned based on four key measures of patient safety: hospital-acquired infections, readmission rates, how well hospital staff members communicate with patients about medications, and discharge planning. About 1,000 U.S. hospitals with data available on these four measures were included in the analysis.

The researchers found that New York City-area hospitals made up the five lowest scoring hospitals nationally. They are as follows: Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx (68% worse than average), Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow (63% worse than average), Forest Hills Hospital in Queens (62% worse than average), St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers (62% worse than average), and St. John’s Riverside Hospital in Yonkers (62% worse than average).

Some hospitals offered explanations for the low patient-safety scores, including the fact that large urban areas pose unique challenges. Jacobi Medical Center reported that it’s patients speak over 150 languages, making it difficult to convey information accurately, and reported treating mostly indigent patients, who frequently suffer from substance abuse or mental illness and are often uninsured, homeless or living in shelters. All of these factors contribute to the lack of follow-up care and readmission risk.


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Jacobi Medical Center has since committed to an infection-prevention program to cut the rate of bloodstream and other infections, and to reduce readmission rates. The facility has also invested in a simultaneous translation system to meet the needs of its diverse patient population.

Other hospitals on the list are also taking measures to improve patient safety. Forest Hills Hospital was the first non-profit hospital system in New York State to post safety data on its website, according to a hospital spokesman.

No hospital in the city itself scored at or above the national average, the researchers noted. New York University’s Langone Medical Center in Manhattan was the highest scoring hospital in New York City, but it was still 10 points below the national average.

In Long Island, St. Francis hospital performed the best, with a score 22% higher than the national average. Seventeen hospitals did not have enough data to be rated, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Lenox Hill Hospital.

References

“New York-area hospitals do poorly in patient safety.” Consumer Reports. February 2012.