Hospitals

Little change in U.S. News’ top hospital rankings

The much-hyped best hospital rankings from U.S. News and World Report are out again and they look a lot like they did last year. Topping the list once again is Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore — as it has for the last 20 years — followed by Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The only movement […]

The much-hyped best hospital rankings from U.S. News and World Report are out again and they look a lot like they did last year.

Topping the list once again is Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore — as it has for the last 20 years — followed by Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The only movement in the top five happened with Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, which jumped from No. 5 to No. 3, and Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, which did the reverse, falling from No. 3 to No. 5. Cleveland Clinic remained in the fourth spot.

One other Midwestern hospital placed in the Top 10, with Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University climbing up one spot to No. 8. (Click here to see this year’s rankings and here to see last year’s.) The magazine has been publishing the rankings for the past 21 years.

To come up with the rankings, the magazine analyzed 4,852 hospitals in 16 specialty areas, such as cancer, heart disease and urology. Of the nearly 5,000 hospitals, only 152 were ranked in even one category. In 12 of the 16 specialties in which care “can determine life or death,” the largest part of each hospital’s score came from death rates and other data on patient safety, volume and various care-related factors such as nursing and patient services.

The rest of the score was derived from a reputational survey of specialists. In four of the specialties — ophthalmology, psychiatry, rehabilitation and rheumatology — hospitals were ranked on reputation alone.

But at least one researcher has found that the rankings fail to reflect institutions’ quality of care, since they rely so heavily on reputation. In an article published earlier this  year in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a Case Western Reserve University researcher warned that consumers and policy makers shouldn’t rely on U.S. News’ rankings to make healthcare decisions.

The researcher, Dr. Ashwini Sehgal, recommended that consumers get information on hospital quality from several sources. Consumers also should look at individual measures of hospital performance rather than relying on a single quality index, he said.

Nonetheless, for hospitals lucky enough to make the rankings, it’s a marketing coup that they don’t hesitate to trumpet.

Cleveland Clinic was ranked in the top spot as the nation’s best heart program for the 16th consecutive year. The Clinic also placed in the Top 10 in numerous other categories, including cancer (9), diabetes and endocrine disorders (6), gastroenterology (2), kidney disorders (3) and pulmonology (3), according to a statement.

University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland ranked in the Top 50 in seven categories, including orthopedics (21), gastroenterology (28), cancer (34), gynecology (42), according to  a statement.