The US News and World Report is a multi-platform source for news and information. Every year they provide a “Best” series for consumers that includes many categories, including the ranking of pediatric hospitals and their congenital heart surgery outcomes. There have been changes in rank for many hospitals since last year that may lead you to ask these next five questions.
In short, no. Hospitals are ranked by a large range of qualifications. Hospitals work differently and specialize in different sectors of care. Therefore, you must do further research, beyond the rankings, to see what hospitals are the best for your child’s diagnosis. For example, a hospital might rank lower over all but be more specialized in treating patients with a certain CHD. Don’t hesitate to ask your child’s doctor about the ranking their facility received.
Not necessarily. In the past reputation has weighted the scores but now it does not carry nearly as much weight as previous years. For example, Phoenix Children’s Hospital has a 1.9% reputation score, yet ranks as number 9. Whereas number 12, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, has a 67.0% reputation score.
Hospitals are ranked on many measures, but mainly outcomes and morality measures. One other number you should look at is the volume of cases. Specifically, the volume of surgeries and outcomes for the particular procedure your child needs. Another great resource is the STS (the Society of Thoracic Surgeons) which compares outcome measures of a particular hospital to national averages to see where your child’s procedure falls.
Not all hospitals share their data publicly. There may be a reason for this. Talk with the hospital to find out why they do not share their data with the public and do not appear in national rankings. If your hospital is not ranked, it could also be because there was a low patient volume, meaning there were not enough cases for the hospital to be fully evaluated and ranked.
As stated before, the rankings are simply a stepping stone in finding the right fit for your family. To find out what is best for your child you need to do a little bit of your own research. Talk with your child’s doctor, consider factors such as where your insurance is accepted, the stress of living in a different city, travel costs, and specialized care for your child’s particular diagnosis. If you are still concerned about the answers you receive, seek a second opinion. One take home fact to remember is that some hospitals have higher mortality rates because they take care of more critical cases. All in all, there is much more to consider other than rankings.