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New York City hospitals do poorly in patient safety

Consumer Reports News: March 01, 2012 06:08 AM

No one was more surprised than me—a New Yorker, through and through—to see just how badly Big Apple hospitals did in our new patient-safety Ratings. After all, those of us living here tend to think that we have pretty much the best of everything on every streetcorner. Well, I’m afraid that just ain’t so, at least when it comes to staying safe in the hospital.

Our health-care experts looked at four key safety indicators: hospital-acquired infections, readmission rates, and how well doctors and nurses communicate with patients when they’re prescribed new drugs and are being sent home at the end of their stay.

What we found wasn’t pretty. Of the 50 lowest-scoring hospitals nationwide in those four measures, 30 were in the New York City area, which includes the five boroughs as well as neighboring communities in Westchester, Long Island, and New Jersey. And the five lowest-rated hospitals nationally were all here, too. Included in the bunch: Forest Hills Hospital, right around the corner from where I grew up in Queens.

Equally distressing, only five hospitals in the whole area—all of them outside of New York City itself—scored at or above the national average. The highest scoring in the city, the NYU Langone Medical Center, was still 10 percent worse than the national average.

Of course, New York does pose some special challenges, including a diverse community, in terms of languages, customs, and income. But as John Santa, M.D., director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center points out, other hospitals in the country and the region that serve similar populations do better.

For details, see our safety Ratings of New York City-area hospitals, which includes detailed safety information on 81 hospitals in the area as well as lists of the five highest- and lowest-Rated ones. For information on hospitals elsewhere in the country, use our hospital Ratings. Or try our hospital Ratings app, which can be downloaded from the iTunes app store for $2.99.

Joel Keehn

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