Commissioner Novello Releases Report on Open Heart Surgery

New York State Reports the Lowest Death Rates Among Patients Nationwide

Albany, October 3 – State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. today released a New York State Department of Health Report that shows the lowest death rates ever reported in the nation for patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery. The statewide mortality rate for coronary bypass surgery performed by cardiac surgeons in New York Hospitals was 2.22 per 100 patients in 1997, representing the lowest death rate ever recorded in the nation since the State Health Department first began reporting surgery outcomes in 1989.

Dr. Novello, who credits this significant improvement in patient survival rates in part to the sharing of performance data with hospitals and physicians, said, "New York State continues to lead the nation in its initiatives to strengthen quality improvement activities among hospitals through its data reporting system and, as a result, this report demonstrates that New Yorkers now have access to some of the finest cardiac surgery programs, staffed with some of the most competent, compassionate surgeons, in the nation and world."

New York's coronary artery bypass surgery death rate has dropped by more than 35 percent, from 3.52 per 100 in 1989 to the national low of 2.22 per 100 patients in 1997. Hospitals can compare their own data to statewide statistics in the New York State Cardiac Surgery Reporting System. Many hospitals have used this information to effectively evaluate their programs and make changes to improve survival rates for patients undergoing bypass surgery.

The State Health Department report provides risk–adjusted mortality rates for each of the 33 hospitals approved to provide coronary artery bypass surgery in New York State. Mortality rates are also published for surgeons who performed the surgery during the three–year period 1995 through 1997.

A total of 20,220 coronary bypass surgeries were performed statewide in 1997, up slightly from 20,078 in 1996 and 19,283 in 1995. The risk–adjusted mortality rates varied among hospitals, ranging from zero (at a hospital that began performing cardiac surgery in 1997) to 4.55 percent. Risk adjusted mortality rates take differences in the complexity of cases into account in evaluating outcomes.

Three hospitals, St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center in Syracuse, Rochester General Hospital and Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola had risk–adjusted bypass surgery death rates significantly lower than the statewide average of 2.22 percent. St. Joseph's performed 895 coronary bypass surgeries, with only four deaths, Rochester General Hospital performed 1073 procedures with 14 deaths and Winthrop–University Hospital performed 861 procedures with 11 deaths. St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica began performing cardiac surgery in 1997 and had no deaths in 29 bypass surgery cases performed.

When comparing the mortality rates for hospitals over the three year period 1995 through 1997, three hospitals achieved risk–adjusted mortality rates significantly below the statewide average of 2.39 percent: St Joseph's Hospital Health Center in Syracuse with a three year risk adjusted cardiac surgery death rate of 0.87 percent; St. Francis Hospital which had a three year rate of 1.77 percent; and North Shore University Hospital in Manhassett with a three–year rate of 1.59 percent.

The Health Department report also lists the risk–adjusted mortality rates for individual surgeons at each hospital where they performed bypass surgery during the three–year period 1995 – 1997. To equitably compare mortality rates among hospitals and surgeons, the Department of Health collects and computerizes information on more than 40 patient risk factors that can effect surgery outcome and risk of death for individual patients.

Detailed statistical analysis of the information is carried out under the guidance of the New York State Cardiac Advisory Committee, comprised of recognized cardiologists, surgeons and other medical specialists within and outside of New York. A comprehensive report on 1998 data is expected to be available early next year.

The Health Department will mail copies of its cardiac surgery report to all hospitals and cardiologists in the state. The booklets also will be made available to the public libraries, and the data will be posted on the Health Department's Internet site ( Copies of the report may be obtained by writing to: Cardiac Report, Box 2000, Albany, New York 12220.

10/3/00–118 OPA