New York hospitals get poor marks for readmissions

September 1, 2009

Patients at New York state hospitals are more likely to be readmitted than in other states.

Patients at hospitals in New York state are more likely to be readmitted after being treated for a major illness than patients in other states, according to federal data. The New York Times (7/10/09) reported that the new data pertain to how many Medicare patients had to be readmitted to the hospital within a month of being discharged after treatment for a heart attack, heart failure, or pneumonia between July 2005 and June 2008. Compared with the rest of the nation, New York hospitals fared poorly in all three categories.

Some New York hospitals charged that the data did not take into account that they treat poor and uneducated patients who may return because, without access to primary care nurses and physicians, they go to the emergency room instead. But health-care experts pointed out that some hospitals that treat such patients, for example Harlem Hospital Center did not have a high readmission rate. Ways to avoid readmissions, according to health care professionals, are to ensure that the patient leaves the hospital with adequate plans to meet his or her needs, forging partnerships with organizations like the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, and providing patients with written discharge instructions.