Released Monday, the 2021–2022 rankings, which acknowledge 50 U.S. centers for delivering exceptional care in several specialties, also give the Massachusetts hospital the top spot in treatment of kidney, nervous system and nervous system surgery, lung and lung surgery and urology.
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) retains second spot in the annually updated list, and Texas Children's Hospital, in Houston, moves up a rung to third place, bumping Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center from third to fourth place. Children's Hospital Los Angeles comes in at No. 5.
The remaining top 10 placements, in descending order, are as follows: Children's Hospital Colorado, in Aurora; Children's National Hospital, in Washington, D.C.; Nationwide Children's Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio; UPMS Children's Hospital, of Pittsburgh; and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, in California.
New Regional Rankings
This year's edition offers something new, adding rankings within states as well as multiple-state rankings. "The Best Children's Hospitals rankings have always highlighted hospitals that excel in specialized care," said Ben Harder, chief of health analysis and managing editor at U.S. News, in a press release. "Now, this year's new state and regional rankings can help families identify conveniently located hospitals capable of meeting their child's needs. As the pandemic continues to affect travel, finding high-quality care close to home has never been more important.”
Across the seven regions, the top-ranked institutions are as follows:
- Mid-Atlantic ― CHOP
- Midwest ― Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
- New England ― Boston Children's Hospital
- Pacific ― Children's Hospital Los Angeles
- Rocky Mountains ― Children's Hospital Colorado
- Southeast ― Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital of Vanderbilt, in Nashville
- Southwest ― Texas Children's Hospital
Boston Children's not only topped the overall list but also led in four specialties. For the other six specialties that were ranked, the top-ranked hospitals on the honor roll are:
- Cancer ― CHOP
- Cardiology and heart surgery ― Texas Children's Hospital
- Diabetes and endocrinology ― CHOP
- Gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery ― Children's Hospital Colorado
- Neonatology ― Children's National Hospital
- Orthopedics ― CHOP
For the past 15 years, the the rankings have been to offer a starting point for parents in making decisions about the best place to take very sick children for high-quality care. The editors of the rankings acknowledge that considerations of travel costs and insurance coverage are other factors in the equation.
Helpful for Families
The rankings are helpful for families, according to Joe W. St. Geme, III, MD, CHOP's physician-in-chief and chair of its Department of Pediatrics. "Some parents, especially those coming from outside an area, find them useful when deciding on care away from home," he says. "Most types of pediatric care are available in the community, but sometimes a child has an unusual disease or complex disease for which local care is not available."
St. Geme said the new regional rankings may be useful in helping parents decide where to bring a child for care that is closer to where they live.
But a top ranking from U.S. News is just one indication of a hospital's overall performance, according to Angela Lorts, MD, director of the Ventricular Assist Device Program, at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
"Parents seeking care for their child should use the data to ask questions and understand the limitations," she says. "Rankings are only based on a small subset of the children we care for. Many of the metrics may not pertain to their child and may not reflect the care they will receive."
In her view, ranking will not give parents all the information they need about medical care and outcomes for specific conditions.
Correction: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong name for the Atlanta hospital ranked as among the best in the Southeast. It is Chidlren's Healthcare of Atlanta.