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Did Your Hospital Make the Honor Roll?

By Kathleen Doheny
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD

July 21, 2015 -- Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston captured the top spot on the annual U.S. News & World Report list of the best U.S. hospitals, knocking last year's No. 1, Mayo Clinic, into second place.

Still, Mayo's campus in Rochester, MN, captured the top spot on half of 16 specialty areas.

This year's report is the 26th published annually by U.S. News. It's intended to help people pick the best hospital for their needs.

This year's listing has more information on regional hospitals, including not only their performance in treating rare or complicated conditions, but also for common conditions such as joint replacement and heart bypass procedures, says Ben Harder, managing editor and chief of health analysis for the publication.

The rankings are calculated taking several things into consideration. Among them:

  • Survival rates: How successful each hospital is at keeping patients alive.
  • Nurse staffing
  • Patient volume
  • Reputation: At least 200 doctors for each of 16 specialty areas provide input.

Fewer hospitals made the honor roll this year than last. To earn a spot on it, hospitals had to rank at or near the top in six or more specialty areas. Fifteen made the cut for 2015. In 2014, 17 did. Besides Mass General, these 14 made the list in this order:

2. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

3. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore

4. UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles

5. Cleveland Clinic

6. Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston

7. New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, N.Y.

8. UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco

9. Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian, Philadelphia

10. Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University, St. Louis

11. Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago

12. NYU Langone Medical Center, New York

13. UPMC--University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

14. Duke University Hospital, Durham, N.C.

15. Stanford Health-Stanford Hospital, Stanford, CA

Top Hospitals by Specialty

The publication also ranked hospitals in 16 areas of specialized care. Top hospitals in each specialty include:

Cancer Care
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Cardiology & Heart Surgery
Cleveland Clinic

Diabetes & Endocrinology

Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Gastroenterology & GI Surgery
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Geriatrics
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Gynecology
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Nephrology

Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Neurology & Neurosurgery

Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Orthopedics
Hospital for Special Surgery, New York

Ear, Nose & Throat
Massachusetts General Hospital / Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary

Pulmonology

Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Urology
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Ophthalmology

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute-Anne Bates Leach Eye Hospital, Miami, FL

Psychiatry
New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell

Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

Rheumatology
Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore

Top Regional Hospitals

This list includes 520 facilities, ranked for performance in both complex and common care. To make the list, the hospitals had to perform well not only in treating complicated conditions but in treating five commonly seen ones. These include heart conditions and bypass surgery, knee replacement, hip replacement, heart failure, and COPD, Harder says.

''This year, for the first time, many smaller community hospitals earned recognition as Best Regional Hospitals on the strength of their performance in common surgeries, like hip replacement and heart bypass, and common medical conditions like heart failure," Harder says.

Not every patient needs to go to an honor roll hospital, he says. "Many can find great care at their local community hospital."

The regional hospital list is here. To view all the rankings, go here.

Top Regional Hospitals

Rely on several sources when you're checking out hospitals, says Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit that advocates for health care quality and safety. She was not involved in the U.S. News rankings. Her group issues safety scores for hospitals.

"The first thing you should consider is the safety of your hospital," she says. Once you're comfortable about that, then see how it performs with the procedure needed, she says.

Her caveat: "Don't assume all hospitals are the same, ever. It is always useful to look at rankings and ratings." That's not possible in an emergency, of course, but doing so for other health care needs is always useful, she says.

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SOURCES: Ben Harder, managing editor and chief of health analysis, U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News & World Report: "U.S. News Best Hospitals 2015-16." Leah Binder, president and CEO, The Leapfrog Group, Washington, D.C.

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