By Howard Koplowitz
LIJ was the only hospital in the metropolitan area to receive a “double star” rating in the report, meaning the hospital's risk-adjusted mortality rate for angioplasty was “statistically significantly better” than the average score.Dr. Rajiv Jauhar, director of interventional cardiology at LIJ, said the findings showed that patients do not have to leave the borough to get the best medical care.”People always want to go to Manhattan,” he said. “What this is showing is that, you know what, we do just as good if not better. You don't have to leave Queens to get these procedures done.”The findings were risk-adjusted, meaning complicated cases were weighted heavier than more routine ones.The report found that LIJ had a 0.64 mortality rate for angioplasty, or 40 percent fewer deaths than average per 1,000 patients.”The mortality figures and the quality of care provided by LIJ… is superior to anyone else's between that three-year period,” Jauhar said.He was referring to 2003 through 2005, the three-year period covered by the report.Only one other hospital, United Health Services in Binghamton, N.Y., received a double star in last week's report.The findings also marked the fourth consecutive year LIJ has obtained a double star, the only hospital to do so since the statistics were recorded in 1995.Dr. Barry Kaplan, a cardiologist and the director of cardiac catheterization at LIJ, said a variety of factors contributed to the distinction.He said LIJ uses a technique employed in few hospitals called cardiac catheterization, where a stent is injected through the wrists.Cardiac catheterization prevents complications from heavy bleeding, Kaplan said.”We do a lot of these procedures from the wrist as opposed to the leg or the groin,” he said.Another contributing factor, Kaplan said, was that the hospital does not shy away from tough cases. He said it was also important to have successful surgeries in less riskier patients.”I think the key is not to have any mishaps in the patients who should be doing well,” he said.Jauhar said the accomplishment “takes a huge team effort involving all cardiac services.”He said nurses follow up on patients the day after the procedure.”I haven't seen that anywhere else and I've worked at five other hospitals,” Jauhar said. “We don't just do the procedure. We follow up on these patients.”He said ethnicity also played a role in the hospital's success, pointing to the large Indian population surrounding LIJ.Indians are more likely to have double blockages in their arteries than other ethnicities, Jauhar said, which helped boost the hospital's risk-adjusted score.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.