Seven LI hospitals earn an “A” rating from the nonprofit’s study

Long Island has seven of the state’s 19 hospitals with “A” ratings from a nonprofit that focuses on hospital safety, according to a report released early Wednesday.

One of these seven, St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center in Flower Hill, earned more As than any other New York hospital in the 10 years that Washington, DC-based nonprofit Leapfrog awarded ratings.

The other six A-rated hospitals are Glen Cove Hospital, Huntington Hospital, Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NYU Langone Hospital – Long Island Hospital in Mineola, and Syosset Hospital.

Dr. Charles Lucore, president of St. Francis, called the Series A ratings “a tribute to our team.”

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Seven Long Island hospitals received A ratings in a new report from Leapfrog, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that focuses on hospital safety. Only 19 of 150 New York hospitals ranked earned As.

  • This is Leapfrog’s 10th year judgments. Flower Hill’s St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center received more A grades than any other hospital in the state.
  • Leapfrog focuses on the ability of hospitals to protect patients from preventable accidents, errors, injuries and infections. Bases ratings on own survey and federal data.

“Every day we look at what is needed to act on good catches and also areas for improvement,” he said. “No matter how many A’s you have and how well recognized you are, there is always an opportunity for improvement.”

Leapfrog, which bases its semiannual assessments on data reported to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and its own survey, focuses on hospitals’ ability to protect patients from preventable errors, accidents, injuries and infections. CMS also has a rating system, but it’s based on a much larger number of criteria.

Five of Long Island’s seven A-hospitals are affiliated with Northwell Health, which has 10 hospitals islandwide.

In the past, most of Northwell’s hospitals have not participated in the survey because “it’s a big effort,” said Dr. Peter Silver, Northwell’s chief quality officer. “Hospitals take weeks to collect all the data to send to Leapfrog.”

But now all the hospitals are doing it, he said.

“We wanted our communities to know how safe it was in Northwell,” she said. “We wanted them to trust our hospitals over other hospitals.”

Silver said participation in the survey is a key reason most hospitals in Northwell are up a letter or two.

Leapfrog director of health care evaluations Katie Stewart said hospitals are not penalized for not participating in the nonprofit’s survey. If a hospital fails to submit data, “publicly available safety information [from the federal government] it’s just heavier.

Silver said Northwell uses Leapfrog reports – which include detailed information on safety-related measures as well as letter grades – to identify possible areas for improvement, and hospital leaders meet regularly to, system-wide, “share lessons learned , to share best practices”.

Officials from Long Island’s six Catholic healthcare hospitals, including St. Francis’s, also meet regularly to share strategies to improve safety, said Dr. Jason Golbin, the system’s chief medical officer.

“We’re looking for every opportunity to further improve care,” he said. “And then we take those best practices from a campus like St. Francis and bring them through the system, allowing us to aim for more consistent quality of care.”

Two of Long Island’s three hospitals with low D ratings—no New York hospital has received an F—are Catholic healthcare facilities: Mercy Hospital in Rockville Center and Good Samaritan University Hospital in West Islip.

Golbin said safety improvements at these two hospitals should be reflected in future assessments. Hospitals submit data months before each Leapfrog report is released.

Nassau University Medical Center, an East Meadow public hospital that received its ninth consecutive D-grade, also expects to see “a higher rating in the future because of the changes that have been implemented,” Maureen Shannon, senior vice president of NUMC for population quality and health, he said in an email.

Leapfrog has seen a marked improvement in hospital safety since it began the rating system a decade ago, Stewart said, adding that Leapfrog has pushed hospitals to pay more attention to safety. The group estimates that more than 16,000 lives have been saved nationwide through the improvements.

Lisa McGiffert, an Austin, Texas-based patient advocate who serves on the steering committee of the Patient Safety Action Network, said Leapfrog’s evaluations have become “broader and more sophisticated than when they started.”

Leapfrog’s explanations of security measures on its website are generally more accessible and easier to understand than those issued by the federal government, he said.

“The way they do it at Leapfrog is easier to use…” he said. “It lets you do a quick review and it lets you do a deep dive, too.”

As in previous surveys, New York ranks low on safety. Only 12.7 percent of the 150 rated hospitals statewide have an A rating, placing the state 39th nationally — along with Alabama — for the lowest percentage of As.

Stewart said New York hospitals are less likely to participate in the surveys than hospitals in other states, which she says is “a good indicator of the priority those hospitals place on transparency and patient safety.”

With Lisa L. Colangelo

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