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US News: Teaching hospitals tops

By David Gulliver
7/16/2009 © Health News Florida

Hospitals affiliated with state medical schools were Florida’s big winners in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of "America's Best Hospitals."

Shands at the University of Florida in Gainesville and Tampa General Hospital tied with seven top-50 rankings apiece. (Tampa General is the main teaching hospital for University of South Florida).

The magazine develops the rankings by combining three main tools: an analysis of mortality rates, a scorecard of services and technologies available, and a national survey of physicians on hospitals' reputations. Each makes up nearly one-third of the score.

This year, the magazine's 20th edition of the study, it added a patient safety index, which looks at preventable deaths and errors, and makes up 5 percent of the score.

The process starts with 4,861 U.S. hospitals, then narrows it to teaching hospitals, hospitals with 200 or more beds, or hospitals with four or more of what it considers eight key technologies.

That cuts the field in half, and then it narrows it further, to 1,859 hospitals, by taking only those that had a minimum number of discharges, or were recommended in its physician survey in the past three years.

Smaller hospitals have long faulted the magazine for the dependency on the physician survey, which they say tips the scales in favor of nationally-known hospitals.

A change in methodology two years ago also reshuffled some rankings. The magazine shifted from using in-hospital mortality rates to the more widely accepted 30-day mortality rates.

The top hospital nationwide was Johns Hopkins Hospital, in Baltimore, which placed in all 16.

Here were Florida's top scorers, by field of treatment, with their ranking in the top 50:

Cancer care -- H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa (16), Shands at University of Florida, Gainesville (45) and Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville (49).

Diabetes and endocrine disorders -- Tampa General Hospital (32), Shands (38).

Digestive disorders --Mayo Clinic (24).

Ear, nose and throat -- Jackson Memorial Hospital, University of Miami (20), Shands (38), Mayo Clinic (48).

Geriatrics -- Shands (25), Mount Sinai Medical Center (32), Jackson Memorial (35), Sarasota Memorial Hospital (37), Mayo Clinic (43), Tampa General (47).

Gynecology -- Tampa General (22), Shands (27), Cleveland Clinic Florida (38).

Heart & Heart Surgery -- Shands (24), Tampa General (34).

Kidney disorders -- Tampa General (37).

Neurology & Neurosurgery -- Mount Sinai (33), Baptist Medical Center, Jacksonville (42).

Ophthalmology -- Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami (1)

Orthopedics -- Tampa General (27), Holy Cross Hospital, Ft. Lauderdale (30).

Respiratory disorders -- Mercy Hospital, Miami (36).

Urology -- Shands (27), Tampa General (29). 

No Florida hospitals ranked in the top 50 for psychiatry, rehabilitation, or rheumatology. 

--David Gulliver is editor of Sarasota Health News. He can be reached at this e-mail.