By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Consumer Reports finds that two NYC municipal hospitals, Kings County Hospital and Harlem Hospital, are among the worst in the country in terms of patient safety.
The city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, which administers both hospitals, fired back Monday, telling the Brooklyn Eagle that Consumer Reports used "outdated data and flawed methodology" in its study.
"This report fails to represent an accurate picture” of conditions at the two hospitals, Adele Flateau, HHC's senior associate director of public affairs and development, said.
She said the magazine didn’t use the most current performance measures for Kings County.
“For hospital readmissions, Kings County now performs at the level of the national average," Flateau said. "With regard to hospital-acquired infection, there has been a steady improvement in all areas. In regard to the measure of double [dose] CT scans, this has been at or less than 2 percent since the beginning of 2011, an improvement sufficient to add at least 10 points to Kings County’s score."
On a 100-point safety scale, Kings County scored just 22 points, while Harlem Hospital received only 20, in the magazine's investigation of safety records of hospitals across the country.
Hospitals were rated in six categories: infections, readmissions, communication, redundant CT scanning (which increases exposure to radiation), complications and mortality.
Patients at Kings County Hospital were reported to suffer an unacceptably high number of infections from catheters and during surgery. They were also readmitted too often after treatment for heart attacks and pneumonia, leading to the suspicion that their conditions weren’t dealt with properly in the first place. Patients at both hospitals were also given repeated CT scans, which carries radiation risks, according to Consumer Reports.
Even some well-known Manhattan hospitals didn’t do much better: New York-Presbyterian scored just 32; and Mount Sinai Medical Center received a 30. Not one New York City hospital made the Top 10 list.
In 2008 Kings County Hospital received a burst of negative publicity after a 49-year-old woman collapsed and lay unattended for a hour in the waiting room of the hospital’s psych ward, where she died.
Conditions in psychiatric wards were not one of the indicators used by Consumer Reports, however.
Nationwide, the highest safety score was received by Billings Clinic in Montana, topping the list with a 72 points, followed by St. Claire’s Hospital in Wisconsin with 71. No hospital scored 100, pointing for the need for even the best hospitals to do better.
The worst hospital overall was Sacred Heart Hospital in Chicago, with a safety score of 16.
While most medical errors go unreported, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that infections, surgical mistakes, and other medical harm contribute to the deaths of 180,000 Medicare patients alone per year.
Another 1.4 million are seriously hurt by their hospital care. What happens to people not on Medicare is unknown because hospitals report on only a fraction of incidents.
Rosemary Gibson, a patient-safety advocate, told Consumer Reports that more than 2.25 million Americans will probably die from medical harm in this decade. “That’s like wiping out the entire populations of North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It’s a man-made disaster,” she said.
See more hospital ratings at Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/08/how-safe-is-your-hos...
Additional reporting by Raanan Geberer