St. Francis Hospital on Long Island has the lowest mortality rate for open-heart surgery of any hospital in New York, according to a new state ranking.
New York Hospital in Manhattan came in second, the state health department said last week.
The average statewide mortality rate for all hospitals was 2.71 deaths per 100 patients for 1993, the latest year studied, down from 3.08 in 1991.
The lowest rate in 1993 was recorded at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, which specializes in open-heart surgery.
The state's ranking formula includes the number of open-heart surgeries a hospital performs, the number of deaths in these cases, the mortality rate and a risk-adjusted mortality rate.
The most significant rate is the risk-adjusted one because it takes into account the patient's age, health problems and other factors that could affect survival.
The lowest risk-adjusted rates belong to St. Francis, 1.55%, and New York Hospital in Manhattan, 1.7%. The highest rates were at Buffalo (N.Y.) General Hospital, 4.35%; Strong Memorial Hospital of the University of Rochester (N.Y.), 4.9%; and University Hospital-Suny Health Science Center at Syracuse (N.Y.), 5.66%.
The state began publishing statistics on open-heart surgery in 1989. Since then, the mortality rate has dropped by almost 50%, said the state health commissioner, Barbara DeBuono, M.D.
The health department's survey includes the 31 hospitals approved by the department to perform cardiac surgery. The survey also lists mortality rates for surgeons who performed more than 200 open-heart operations at one hospital from 1990 to 1993.
Frances Tarlton, a spokeswoman for the agency, said the state does not actually rank the hospitals because in many cases differences are very slight. But the health department does flag the hospitals with the best and worst rates.
Alan Guerci, M.D., medical director of St. Francis, attributed his hospital's low rate to three things: "We have good people-not just heart surgeons, but cardiologists, nurses, technicians. We work hard, and we are very focused as an institution on open-heart surgery."
Buffalo General, Strong Memorial and Suny Health Science Center said their mortality rates had improved significantly in the past two years. Strong Memorial and Suny Health Science Center partly attributed their gains to changes in surgery teams.