By Rebecca Henely
A spokesman for North Shore-LIJ Health System said the hospital was committed to improvement after Consumer Reports released a ranking of New York City area hospitals that put Forest Hills Hospital at 62 percent below the national average in hospital safety.
The hospital, at 102-01 66th Road, was the third worst on a ranking of 81 hospitals in the city and surrounding region. Consumer Reports put all but five area hospitals below the national average for hospital safety based on the rate of infections, readmissions and the thoroughness of information the hospital provided to its patients on discharge and medications.
A spokeswoman from Consumer Reports said the time frames for the various measures vary.
“Whenever information contained in the various ‘hospital report cards’ identifies a quality issue, we are already aware of it and working aggressively to resolve it,” North Shore said in a statement.
Consumer Reports is a magazine and website that reviews products and services, and the research for city hospitals was done through data submitted by the hospitals, billing data and a survey by Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems.
North Shore said that in 2010 Forest Hills Hospital’s infection rates were average for the state as a whole and that the hospital’s recent data has shown improvements along all four lines.
Forest Hills Hospital was not the only Queens-area hospital that placed poorly on Consumer Reports’ rankings last month; three others ranked in the top 10 worst for hospital safety. Brooklyn’s Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, which serves many patients from southwest Queens, ranked sixth lowest at 59 percent below the national average. Jamaica Hospital came in ninth at 57 percent below the national average.
Other hospitals which came in below the national average included Flushing Hospital at 52 percent, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway at 48 percent, New York Hospital Queens in Flushing at 43 percent and Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park at 26 percent.
“It is my understanding that some of the information in the report is somewhat dated and that some situations are now improved,” Borough President Helen Marshall said in an e-mailed statement about the rankings. “Without seeing the entire report, we cannot comment further.”
New York Hospital Queens released a statement in which it said it was constantly working to improve and had made many achievements in care in 2011.
“In 2012, we can anticipate that there may be more quality reporting requirements by regulatory agencies and there is a constant need for staff education and training regarding patient safety,” the hospital said.
State Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), chairman of the Subcommittee on Workplace Safety, said hospitals in the city have to deal with high volumes of patients, many of whom are uninsured or whose first language is not English.
But he said that makes diligence about safety all the more important.
“I hope the hospital industry puts a much greater emphasis on patients’ safety than they are clearly doing,” he said.
State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) was more critical in a statement.
“It is completely unacceptable with modern technology being what it is that any hospital would fare below excellent,” he said.
Consumer Reports said four Queens hospitals did not have enough data to allow them to be rated: Elmhurst Hospital Center, Queens Hospital Center in Jamaica Hills, Peninsula Hospital Center in Far Rockaway and Mt. Sinai Hospital Queens in Astoria.
The data Consumer Reports did collect showed Elmhurst had poor ratings on readmissions and information about medications; Queens Hospital had poor ratings on infections and information about discharges and medications; and Peninsula had poor ratings information about discharges and medications, but got a high rating on infection prevention.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.