Boston, Philadelphia top list of best children's hospitals

By Bernie Monegain
11:34 AM
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Boston Children's Hospital and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia tie for first place in U.S. News & World Report's 2012-13 Best Children's Hospitals Rankings.

Much of the quality related data collected for the rankings are based on measures underpinned by health information technology, such as electronic health records.

U.S. News & World Report released the rankings on June 5.

They feature 50 hospitals in each of 10 pediatric specialties: cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology, neonatology, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, pulmonology and urology. The rankings will also be published in the U.S. News Best Hospitals 2013 guidebook, which will be available in August.

Eighty hospitals across the country ranked in one or more specialties. In addition, the 2012-13 Honor Roll recognizes 12 hospitals with high scores in a least three specialties:

1. (tie) Boston Children's Hospital
1. (tie) Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
3. Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
4. Texas Children's Hospital, Houston
5. Children's Hospital Los Angeles
6. Seattle Children's Hospital
7. Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
8. (tie) Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio
8. (tie) Children's Hospital Colorado, Aurora
10. (tie) Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
10. (tie) Johns Hopkins Children's Center, Baltimore
10. (tie) St. Louis Children's Hospital-Washington University

For families of sick children, Best Children's Hospitals provides unparalleled quality-related information in addition to rankings, including survival rates, adequacy of nurse staffing, procedure volume, and much more, according to U.S. News & World Report. Since their 2007 debut, the rankings have put an increasing emphasis on data that directly reflect hospitals' performance over the opinions of physicians.

This year, U.S. News surveyed 178 pediatric centers to obtain data such as availability of key resources and ability to prevent complications and infections. The hospital survey made up 75 percent of the rankings. A separate reputational survey in which 1,500 pediatric specialists – 150 in each specialty – were asked where they would send the sickest children in their specialty made up the remaining 25 percent.

"The pressure on hospitals to release data that reveal their quality of care is increasing, but it is still much harder for someone caring for a sick child to dig out important facts about pediatric quality of care than to get that kind of information about hospital performance with adult patients," says Health Rankings Editor Avery Comarow. "No less than adults, children deserve the best possible care when they need it the most. Through Best Children's Hospitals, we highlight pediatric centers with that unique level of expertise."

A typical candidate for ranking in Best Children's Hospitals was a member of the Children's Hospital Association (CHA), was either a freestanding children's hospital or a "hospital within a hospital" – a collection of large, multidisciplinary pediatric departments within a medical center – and was affiliated with a medical school. Several non-CHA members were added because of specific expertise or because of experts' recommendations.
 
RTI International, the research organization that generates the Best Hospitals rankings and created the Best Children's Hospitals methodology produced the 2012-13 rankings and administered the hospital and physician surveys. The hospital survey was designed with the help of 125 medical directors, pediatric specialists, and other experts organized by RTI into working groups.

A detailed description of the methodology is available here.