Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its inaugural hospital assessment ratings.
The agency hopes that these new ratings will help to inform consumers and encourage hospitals to improve the quality of medical care that they provide.
The study took a look at patient care and gave each hospital a comprehensive rating of between one to five stars. In all, nearly 3,700 different hospitals received ratings, or approximately 80 percent of all hospitals in the United States.
Unfortunately, New York residents may not be too impressed with the ratings of the state’s medical facilities.
According to an analysis conducted by The Empire Center for Public Policy, New York hospitals collectively ranked dead last in the nation.
The Empire Center reports that among the 155 New York hospitals that the CMS analyzed, the average star rating was 2.26 (out of five possible stars).
Only one in-state hospital received a five-star rating: The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. In fact, 35 hospitals in New York received a one-star rating.
To put these dismal ratings into perspective, consider this fact: New York had as many one-star rated hospitals as California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania – combined!
How Does CMS Rate Hospitals?
We all put a lot of faith into the hands of hospitals. They care for us at our most vulnerable moments. The majority of medical procedures actually go well in New York and elsewhere.
However, as the CMS ratings show, patients and their families must remain vigilant. Hospital malpractice occurs far too often, and too many New York hospitals are simply failing to live up to their end of the bargain.
In producing the star ratings, CMS looked at 64 different metrics. These metrics all fit into one of seven broad categories:
- Safety of care
- Patient experience
- Effectiveness of care
- Timeliness of care
- Efficient use of medical imaging.
When looking at these metrics, it is easy to see why low ratings are so worrisome. These seven categories address the most important concerns patients have when they check into a hospital.
The fact that New York hospitals are failing in these basic categories is simply unacceptable. They need to make significant improvement.
Hopefully, as these are the inaugural CMS star ratings, we will see positive progress in the coming years.
Still, the report highlights the fact that patients are currently being exposed to an unacceptable amount of risk in New York. The state’s hospitals can clearly do more to improve patient care.
Report Card for Hospitals in Syracuse and Albany
Similar to the hospitals in the rest of the state, hospitals in the Syracuse and Albany metro areas underachieved in the CMS ratings.
The two cities had a combined 11 hospitals within 40 miles which CMS rated. None of the 11 hospitals received a four- or five-star rating. The majority of the hospitals received below-average ratings.
Here is how CMS rated the local hospitals:
|Albany Medical Center||Albany||2|
|Albany Memorial Hospital||Albany||2|
|St. Peter’s Hospital||Albany||2|
|Auburn Community Hospital||Auburn||2|
|St. Joseph’s Hospital||Syracuse||3|
|University Hospital – SUNY||Syracuse||1|
|St. Mary’s Hospital||Troy||3|
To learn more about what went into each hospital’s rating, visit Medicare’s hospital comparison tool. Using that tool, you can get very detailed information about each individual hospital.
For example, you can learn that only 94 percent of surgery patients at St. Joseph’s Hospital had their antibiotics stopped at the correct time (compared to the national average of 98 percent).
If You Think You Were Harmed by Medical Malpractice, What Can You Do?
We believe that you should take three basic steps if you suspect that you or a loved one has suffered harm due to medical negligence at a hospital in Albany, Syracuse or elsewhere in New York:
1. Document the potential malpractice.
Certainly, every medical malpractice case is different. In some situations, a patient can do little to nothing to document the suspected medical negligence, or the negligence may be still ongoing. In other cases, the negligence may be clearly evident and can be readily documented.
With that said, patients can best protect themselves by getting their hands on as much documentation as possible. You should always ask for hard copies of any medical tests, including blood work and lab results. You should also try to obtain your doctor’s note, doctor’s contact information and the details of your treatment.
2. Ask questions.
You should ask frequent and probing questions throughout the course of your medical treatment. After all, it is your legal right to do so.
Medical professionals have a corresponding legal duty to answer your questions to the extent that it is reasonably possible before they undertake a course of treatment. This is known as obtaining informed consent from a patient. It helps to make sure that patients make their own decisions – knowingly and intelligently.
Essentially, it requires doctors to disclose all risks associated with any procedure as well as any available alternative forms of treatment. Be sure to take advantage of your legal rights by asking extensive questions.
3. Contact an attorney.
Finally, it is imperative that victims consult with a New York medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Medical negligence cases are highly complex. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get a negligent hospital to cooperate with finding out what went wrong.
By getting a lawyer on your side, you can ensure that steps will be taken to try to hold the hospital accountable for any damage that it has caused.
Your lawyer will be able to comprehensively review your case and determine your best path forward.
At Powers & Santola, LLP, we want to help. Our medical malpractice attorneys have protected the rights of many hospital negligence victims in Albany, Syracuse and throughout New York.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, please do not hesitate to contact us to set up a free review of your case.