2 Utah hospitals land among the nation's best in annual ranking

Published: Tuesday, July 19 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Fewer hospitals in the country are out-performing themselves and others each year, according to the latest survey by U.S. News & World Report.

Of the 56 hospitals analyzed in Utah, only two placed among the nation's best. Eight ended up earning nods from the magazine for high performance in specific disciplines, from cancer treatment to urology.

University Hospital was named the No. 1 health care system in the Salt Lake City metro area, and also placed in the top 50 in the nation for its gynecology and ear, nose and throat services, according to the News.

Primary Children's Medical Center also did well, with seven of its specialties (pediatric cancer, cardiology, gastroenterology, neonatology, nephrology, neurology and orthopedics) placing in the top 40 among the national rankings.

"This recognition represents the hard work and dedication of our staff and physicians, and it's gratifying to be ranked among the nation's best," said Dr. Vivian Lee, senior vice president for health sciences and CEO of University of Utah Health Care. "Our patients are our first priority and we continually work to provide them the best possible care in every aspect of medicine."

Intermountain Medical Center, LDS Hospital, McKay-Dee Hospital, Salt Lake Regional Medical Center and St. Mark's Hospital also landed on lists noting high performance in various specialties of care.

The intent of the annual Best Hospitals report is to guide patients who need an especially high level of care to the appropriate medical centers, judging by their competence, according to U.S. News Health Rankings editor and writer Avery Comarow.

"These (ranked hospitals) are referral centers where other hospitals send their sickest patients," he said. "Hospitals like these are ones you or those close to you should consider when stakes are high."

Death rates, provider-patient ratios, safety records, procedure volume and other data were examined, therefore pitting medical centers against each other, based on their performance and reputation. To be included in the annual evaluation, hospitals must meet a stringent list of qualifications, including the availability of unusually skilled inpatient care.

Only 140 — fewer than 3 percent of the 4,785 hospitals analyzed for the latest Best Hospitals rankings — qualified to be ranked in even one of the 16 specialties specified, Comarow said. In order to make the nation's "best of the best" list, hospitals had to rank at or near the top in six or more specialties.

Only 17 hospitals across the country, none of which are in Utah, could claim that honor this year. Johns Hopkins Hospital, in Baltimore, was at the top of that list.

This is the first year that U.S. News has included the "high-performing" category, which lists hospitals that weren't ranked in the top 50 in a given specialty, but were still among the top 25 percent in the nation.

Hundreds of local physicians were also listed in the company's list of top doctors, representing dozens of specialties. The doctors were selected based on a peer-nomination process and are listed online with each corresponding hospital.

The rankings for all hospitals and specialties are available online at www.usnews.com/besthospitals.

E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com, Twitter: wendyleonards

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