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Surgery ratings at mid-level locally

Rochester, N.Y. "Youre just average," thats the message Consumer Reports new surgery ratings delivers to Strong Memorial Hospital and Rochester General Hospital.

Rochester General did receive our second highest score for angioplasty, so for specific surgeries these specific hospitals may have performed better or worse than their overall score, said Doris Peter, Associate Director of Consumer Reports Health Ratings.

Consumer Reports ratings are based on Medicare claims from 2009-2011. The non-profit examined how patients fared following surgery whether they died in the hospital or stayed there longer than expected.

We take them seriously and try to understand whether the message is important and how we are going to respond to it, said Bob Panzer, M.D., Chief Quality Officer for the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Panzer said there have been efforts to improve surgery based on internal data, government data and the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program.

When it comes to the Consumer Reports ratings, Panzer said the weakness in them is that they lack information from patient medical records.

It would be better if we could actually see the medical records, but unfortunately, the medical societies that hold the data, dont make it available to the public, said Peter.

If we can get the data from the professional organizations then were left with billing data and this method is seen by some as the best one can do with billing data, added Peter.

Pulling detailed data from medical records is expensive and time consuming said Panzer.

Strong Memorial Hospital is in the process of adding that information to a system that will allow it to better judge how well it is doing with regard to surgeries, infections and other treatments, but that data is not complete, according to Panzer.

With very few exceptions, you are free to go where you want to go in terms of your insurance coverage, said Nancy Adams, Executive Director of the Monroe County Medical Society.

Adams urges people to do their own research when it comes to considering a hospital or surgeon. She recommends visiting the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as well as New York State Department of Health.

Ultimately, this is a decision you should make by talking to your physicians, said Adams.

RGH did not comment, the State Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment.

Improvements From 2012

In 2012 Consumer Reports released safety ratings for hospitals and Strong received a score of 34 out of 100. Communication with patients, performing fewer scans that expose people to radiation were among the areas Panzer said had to improve.

Strong Hospital has seen a 65% reduction in radiation exposure to staff and patients since special efforts began in October 2011, according to Radiation Safety Officer Frederic Mis.

Patients Complaints

13WHAM News heard from numerous viewers regarding surgery experiences at both Strong and RGH.

Of the 14 viewers who responded, most complaints pertained to communication problems with hospital staff while at Strong. None described being in the hospital longer than expected or having a loved one die while in either hospitals care.

Evan White, 13WHAM-TV
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