America's Top Hospitals
Best Hospitals' Survival Rates 12-20% Higher, Study Says
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 24, 2005 -- Of all the hospitals in America, which ones are best?
According to a new study, 229 hospitals stand out, earning a "Distinguished
Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence."
The awards come from HealthGrades, an independent organization focused on
health care quality. For the third straight year, HealthGrades has identified
the top five percent of U.S. hospitals for clinical quality.
For the complete list, click
Nearly 5,000 hospitals nationwide were considered. The rankings are based on
death and complication rates of Medicare patients hospitalized from 2001-2003
for 28 common procedures and diagnoses including heart attack, stroke, heart
bypass, pneumonia, hip replacement, gastrointestinal problems, and back and
For four of the most common conditions and treatments -- heart attack,
stroke, community acquired pneumonia, and heart bypass surgery -- survival
rates were 12-20% better at the distinguished hospitals than at an average
Here's how those survival rates compared:
- Stroke: 15.4% better at awarded hospitals
- Community-acquired pneumonia: 19.55% better at awarded hospitals
- Coronary (heart) bypass surgery: 15.3% better at awarded hospitals
- Heart attack: 12.6% better at awarded hospitals
The heart attack rate was based on hospitals using angioplasty and stent
treatments to reopen blood vessels.
To put those percentages in real-world terms, imagine an average-sized crowd
at an NFL football game -- nearly 53,000 people. That's how many lives could
have been saved if all Medicare patients hospitalized for those four problems
had gone to top-ranked hospitals, says HealthGrades.
Distinguished hospitals treated more Medicare patients than average
hospitals. Their Medicare patients were often in worse condition than those at
average hospitals. The awards included 126 teaching hospitals, which have at
least one resident or were connected to an approved medical teaching program
for at least one year of the study.
Best, Worst Regions
Geography mattered. Some regions had an abundance of awarded hospitals,
while some states had none.
The Great Lakes region had the highest concentration of top-ranked
hospitals, based on the 2000 U.S. census. There was one distinguished hospital
for every 773,181 residents in that region, which included Illinois, Indiana,
Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
The Sunbelt was a close second. Like the Great Lakes area, it had 72
distinguished hospitals, but the Sunbelt's larger population meant more
patients per hospital. The Sunbelt states were Alabama, Florida, Georgia,
Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West
Third place went to the Northeast, with 36 distinguished hospitals. The
Northeast included Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and
The Great Plains region had 30 awarded hospitals. Those states were
Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, North and South
Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming.
The West Coast had the lowest concentration of top-ranked hospitals. In
those states -- Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon,
Utah, and Washington -- there was one awarded hospital per almost 3 million
Florida and the Upper Great Lakes had the highest per-capita number of
distinguished hospitals. Washington, Georgia, and Massachusetts had the lowest
States Without Top-Ranked Hospitals
The 16 states without top-ranked hospitals were: