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Dueling 'Best Hospital' Ratings

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Updated: 10/13 11:17 pm

March 29, 2011 -- U.S. News & World Report has released its list of the best hospitals in 52 U.S. cities on the heels of Thomson Reuters' "100 Top Hospitals" list. 

The two companies have released dueling "best-hospital" lists for years. U.S. News & World Report releases its top-hospitals list over the summer, while the Thomson Reuters list comes out in the spring.

But this year, U.S. News & World Report has a surprise. Building on data from its 2010 "best" list among the nation's 4,852 hospitals, it's now offering a list of the best hospitals in U.S. cities with a population of 1 million or more.

Hospitals that make the U.S. News & World Report metro list are ranked first by the number of medical specialties in which they are among the best in the nation. Then they are ranked by the number of medical specialties in which they score among the top 25% of all U.S. hospitals.

Hospitals with at least one national ranking outscore hospitals that may be better in various other specialties but aren't nationally ranked in any of them. Children's hospitals are not included in the report.

"Consequently, the No. 1 hospital in a metro area is not necessarily the best in town for all patients," notes U.S. News & World Report editor Avery Comarow in a news release. "We expect that savvy consumers will consider not merely a hospital's overall rank in the metro area, but its expertise in the specialty relevant to their care."

Given this warning, here's the list from U.S. News & World Report of the top-ranked hospitals in the five largest metro areas:

New York City

  1. New York-Presbyterian Hospital of Columbia and Cornell
  2. NYU Langone Medical Center
  3. Mount Sinai Medical Center
  4. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  5. Hospital for Special Surgery

Los Angeles

  1. Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
  2. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
  3. USC University Hospital
  4. University of California, Irvine Medical Center
  5. Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center

Chicago

  1. Northwestern Memorial Hospital
  2. University of Chicago Medical Center
  3. Rush University Medical Center
  4. Loyola University Medical Center
  5. University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago

Dallas-Fort Worth

  1. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  2. Baylor University Medical Center
  3. Parkland Memorial Hospital
  4. Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation
  5. Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital

Philadelphia

  1. Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
  2. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
  3. Christiana Care
  4. Temple University Hospital
  5. Hahnemann University Hospital

Top 100 U.S. Hospitals

The Thomson Reuters ratings use a very different system. The report considers 2,914 non-federal U.S. hospitals.

The report evaluates hospitals according to 10 criteria: deaths; medical complications; patient safety; average patient stay; hospital costs per patient; hospital profitability; patient satisfaction; adherence to clinical standards of care; post-discharge mortality; and death and readmission rates for acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), heart failure, and pneumonia.

Patients may not be overly concerned about a hospital's profitability, which counts as much in the rankings as in-hospital deaths or patient safety. But "operating profit margin is one of the purest measures of a hospital's financial health," the Thomson Reuters report notes.

But according to Thomson Reuters' calculations, if all Medicare patients received the same level of care as patients in the top 100 hospitals:

  • There would be about 116,000 fewer hospital deaths.
  • More than 197,000 patients would avoid medical complications.
  • Hospitals would save $462 per patient.
  • The average patient stay would be half a day shorter.

States in the Midwest had half of the top 100 hospitals. Southern states had 29 of the top 100, Northeastern states had 14, and Western states had six.

Because states don't have equal numbers of hospitals, the Thomson Reuters report analyzed states for their performance over the past two years of top 100 studies.

In this analysis, states whose hospital systems rank in the in the top 20% are:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin

States in the bottom 20% are:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia 
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