By Avery Comarow and Ben Harder for U.S. News and World Report
U.S. News ranks the top 20 hospitals in the nation, plus the best hospitals in each state and metro area.
Somewhere in America, at a pace of about once per second, a patient checks into a hospital. With more than 33 million hospitalizations a year and so many patients on whom to sharpen their skills, hospitals could be expected to meet the most demanding standards for quality and safety.
Yet too many hospitals fail even those whose medical needs are relatively straightforward – such as hip replacement, uncomplicated heart bypass surgery or removal of a cancerous section of colon. The hospital that makes treating patients like these its bread and butter is the very definition of a community hospital, and it should perform at a high standard.
Even fewer hospitals excel at caring for patients with especially challenging or complex diagnoses, for whom the stakes may be a matter of life or death. For those patients, venturing beyond a trusted community hospital to seek care at a truly exceptional medical center, even one farther from home, may be the wisest option.
To help readers narrow their search for hospitals that best match their needs, U.S. News ranks hospital performance in 16 areas of complex specialty care and also rates hospitals in nine bellwether procedures and conditions such as heart bypass, hip and knee replacement, heart failure and lung cancer surgery.
The Best Hospitals Honor Roll takes both the specialty rankings and the procedure and condition ratings into account. Hospitals received points if they were nationally ranked in one of the 16 specialties – the more specialties and the higher their rank, the more points they got – and also if they were rated “high performing” in the nine procedures and conditions. The top 20 point-getters made up the Honor Roll, which has a maximum total of 480 points.
[Slideshow: The Honor Roll of Best Hospitals 2017-18.]
U.S. News 2017-18 Best Hospitals Honor Roll
Best Regional Hospitals
U.S. News created Best Regional Hospitals in 2011 to provide consumers who want to stay close to home – and who may be limited by their insurance plan’s network – with an overall assessment of their region’s hospitals across multiple areas of care. To be recognized on this year’s list, a hospital must have been either nationally ranked in one of 12 key specialties or received ratings of high performing in three or more of those specialties or the procedures and conditions.
In 2017-18, U.S. News recognized 535 U.S. hospitals – about 1 medical center in 10 – as Best Regional Hospitals. If there were at least two Best Regional Hospitals in a state or metropolitan area with 1 million or more residents, they were numerically ranked.
The greatest concentration of standout regional hospitals lies in the New York metro area, where New York-Presbyterian Hospital was first among 37 regionally ranked medical centers. In the Los Angeles metro area, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center topped the regional list of 23 hospitals. In Chicago, a third cluster of high-quality providers, Northwestern Memorial Hospital ranked first of 22.
For patients and their physicians, these rankings and ratings should be seen as just a starting point. Individual diagnosis and personal priorities will dictate a personal best choice. With the latest U.S. News hospital-quality data at their fingertips, they can make their choices with greater confidence.