Did Your Hospital Make The Honor Roll?

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice
The Niagara Health Quality Coalition (NHQC) for Hearst Newspapers has released its annual patient safety analysis that identifies New York hospitals that are either excelling or lacking in patient safety procedures. The analysis also contains both a "watch list" and an "honor roll" that lists the best and worst hospitals, respectively.

According to a Times Union article on the analysis, the rankings are based on five factors: mortality rates for 14 procedures; patient safety rates for 11 conditions like post-operative sepsis and post-operative blood clots; the number of foreign bodies retained during surgery and transfusions of the wrong blood type; whether hospitals performed a minimum number of cases to claim competency on six complex surgeries; and hospital participation in two national safety programs.

Those hospitals that ranked below average on safety performance are listed on the analysis' watch list. There are 26 facilities on it this year, including local hospital, Albany Medical Center. This is the second year in a row that Albany Medical Center has made the list. According to the NHQC, Albany Med is notorious for leaving objects inside of surgery patients. In this year alone, the Albany Medical surgical staff has had three incidents were objects were left inside a patient after surgery. In one case, a metal retractor, an instrument used to hold organs in place or keep a wound open during surgery, was left behind in the abdomen of a middle age man having surgery due to cancer. In two other cases, surgical sponges were left behind after surgeries and later had to be removed. Also on the watch list were Nassau University Medical Center, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York Presbyterian/Columbia, Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, and SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse.

Those hospitals that the analysis shows have had fewer complications, injuries and infections to their patients are placed on the honor roll. St. Peter's Hospital, a local hospital in the Capital Region made the cut for its "remarkable" level of performance and amount of patient safety procedures.

According to the Times Union, while NHQC's analysis does include limited data, it is widely regarded the "best available tool to evaluate hospital safety on a large scale". The authors of the analysis caution the public to remember that the hospitals on the watch list are not necessarily bad hospitals, but have the ability to do better in some areas. They have also stated that the analysis should not dictate what hospital patients decide to receive treatment on, but should only be used to help them to ask informed questions about their treatment.

I would like to congratulate St. Peter's Hospital for a job well done! I am so proud that this local hospital was one of the 20 out of the total 246 hospitals analyzed to make the honor roll. That being said, I am also embarrassed by the presence of Albany Medical Center on the watch list for the second year in a row. Among the hospital's other short comings, three incidents of foreign objects being left inside patients in one year is three too many. However, I am encouraged by the reports of hospital officials who have stated that they are striving to improve safety procedures and implementing programs to cut down on the number of foreign objects left in patients' bodies after surgery. I hope that this analysis lights a fire under Albany Med's administration, and it is able to stay off the watch list, or maybe even make the honor roll, next year.

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