New York Hospital Rankings Help Consumers Make Smart Choices

Consumers of medical care want the best care for their families. Many nonprofits, government agencies, and other organizations publish free, comprehensive health care rankings to help consumers choose hospitals that maximize health outcomes and minimize the risk of substandard care and medical error. These rankings use multiple criteria to rank hospitals, typically organizing results by location, medical condition, and medical procedure. Consumers who understand how to use these rankings can target their research to identify the hospitals that most successfully treat similarly situated patients.

New York State Hospital Report Card publishes the annual New York State Hospital Report Card rating the quality of medical care in hospitals across the State. The Hospital Report defines quality care as care that meets the needs of the patient. Like other hospital rankings, the Hospital Report uses standard, federally-developed metrics and analyzes hard data from hospital administrative records. It accepts no funding from hospitals or parties with a financial interest in the results. An honor roll section of the site provides a convenient listing of high-ranking hospitals organized by medical condition.

The Report Card’s Patient Safety Indicators may be of particular interest to those considering serious medical procedures. Ranking categories include postoperative complications for many procedures. Patients concerned about medical error and accidents can access rankings to view incidence rates by hospital. For example, hospitals are ranked under a three-star system, with additional information where available for categories including Foreign Body Left In During Procedure, Accidental Puncture and Laceration, and Transfusion Reaction.

Lower-ranking hospitals appeared to have a higher occurrence of deaths in low-risk patients and medical errors such as leaving foreign objects inside of surgery patients. Last year’s highest overall ranked hospitals were Weill Cornell Campus, Lenox Hill, and NYU Langone Medical Center. Lenox Hill received high marks in categories including heart attack, congestive heart failure, and birth trauma to newborns. Among other categories, NYU Langone was recognized for treatment of heart attack patients, and Weil Cornell Campus was recognized for acute stroke outcomes.

Other Hospital Ranking Tools
Many other organizations publish useful hospital rankings and assessments. Both Medicare and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services publish data on hospital care outcomes. HealthGrades offers an easy-to-use online tool for researching physicians and hospitals. The annual rankings published by U.S. News and World Report allow consumers to search hospitals by medical condition and location, including city-specific rankings. The report also includes separate rankings of children’s hospitals.

These rankings are useful starting points for consumers seeking quality care. However, the rankings are affected by many factors, including availability of state-of-the-art medical equipment, demographic characteristics of clientele, and the average illness progression of a hospital’s patients. You should not rely solely on rankings to make important medical choices. You should also consider travel needs, health plan coverage, and consult with their primary care physician. A thoughtful search will maximize your ability to distinguish between hospitals and make the best possible choice for your medical care.

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