Magazine's Ranking Omits Some Top Heart Hospitals

Analysis of U.S. News & World Report shows comparable outcomes in non-ranked hospitals

MONDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. News & World Report rankings of "America's Best Hospitals for Heart and Heart Surgery" fall short in identifying all the top hospitals for heart attack patients, researchers report in the July 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Oliver J. Wang, M.D., of the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues used 2003 Medicare administrative data to compare outcomes in 13,662 patients in 50 ranked hospitals and 254,907 patients in 3,813 non-ranked hospitals.

The researchers found that risk-standardized, 30-day mortality rates were lower in ranked than in non-ranked hospitals (16 percent versus 17.9 percent), although about one-third of the ranked hospitals fell outside the best performing quartile. They also found that 11 ranked hospitals (22 percent) and 28 non-ranked hospitals (0.73 percent) had a standardized mortality ratio significantly less than 1.

"Hospitals rated as superior to their peers should not boast too proudly or become complacent," state the authors of an accompanying editorial. "They need to understand the potential inconsistency and fallibility of quality-ranking systems. And they need to realize that regardless of their true rank, their goal should not be to merely beat their peers in the ratings but to strive for optimum performance. In this type of quality competition, the real winners are the patients."

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