A decade ago, neurosurgeon John G. Golfinos, MD, said that his goal as chair of the Department of Neurosurgery was for NYU Langone Health to become the institution to which other neurosurgery centers refer their most difficult cases. As he put it, “We get the job done.” Last August, NYU Langone smashed that goal, becoming the go-to destination for patients in need of neurosurgical care when its Department of Neurosurgery ranked No. 1 in the country on U.S. News & World Report’s influential 2022–23 “Best Hospitals Honor Roll.” This August, NYU Langone has done it once again, retaining the No. 1 spot in neurosurgery and neurology on the 2023–24 rankings.
The enduring accolade is yet another indicator that NYU Langone’s neurosurgeons are setting the standard for clinical outcomes. Vizient, Inc., the nation’s largest member-driven healthcare performance improvement company, has rated NYU Langone’s Department of Neurosurgery No. 1 in the country for its ability to lead patients who experience clinical complications to a full recovery. It also awarded a No. 1 ranking to the Brain and Spine Tumor Center, a part of Perlmutter Cancer Center.
Completing more than 6,000 neurosurgical cases each year, NYU Langone has a mortality rate of less than 0.1 percent for cranial procedures, the nation’s lowest. Donato R. Pacione, MD, the department’s director of quality assurance, attributes the outstanding outcomes to several factors. Many of the department’s 30 neurosurgeons are subspecialists dedicated to their area of expertise. “There’s no surgical case we can’t handle,” says Dr. Pacione. “Our surgeons are not only excellent technically, but many are also federally funded to research brain tumors, which partly accounts for the referrals we get from other centers.”
“We have a strong culture of quality and safety. We’re always finding things that we can make even better.”
—Donato R. Pacione, MD, Director, Quality Assurance, Department of Neurosurgery
Moreover, every member of the care team is dedicated solely to neurosurgery, ensuring well-coordinated choreography from the operating room to the intensive care unit. The first 48 hours or so after surgery is the period of greatest concern for complications, such as excessive bleeding or fluid buildup. At NYU Langone, the risk of a life-threatening complication is less than 1 percent, explains Dr. Pacione. And 98 percent of patients who experience an adverse event recover, thanks to swift intervention.
NYU Langone’s advanced imaging technologies, which help clarify the margins of a tumor right in the operating room, also enhance outcomes. “We have cutting-edge technology in every form,” says Dr. Golfinos. “All these tools work together to make tumor removal faster, smoother, and more accurate.” But the greatest contributor to the department’s excellence may be the most intangible: attitude. “We have a strong culture of quality and safety,” says Dr. Pacione. “We’re always finding things that we can make even better.”