Hopkins Hospital is ranked No. 1 Magazine's survey puts it at top 8 years in a row

July 17, 1998|By Jonathan Bor and M. William Salganik | Jonathan Bor and M. William Salganik,SUN STAFF

For the eighth year running, Johns Hopkins Hospital has ranked as the nation's best hospital in a survey by U.S. News & World Report.

The ratings, released yesterday in advance of next week's edition of the magazine, seemed to cheer Hopkins officials while relieving nervousness over a question that is asked every year about this time: What if Hopkins ranks second, or lower?

"We have to be realistic," said Dr. Edward Miller, chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine and dean of the medical school. "We know we can't stay in the No. 1 position forever. We just do our thing -- and hopefully, that's enough."

Hopkins ranked ahead of the Mayo Clinic of Rochester, Minn.; Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; and UCLA Medical Center, Los )) Angeles -- hospitals that were rated second through fifth, respectively.

Rounding out the top 10 were: Cleveland Clinic; Stanford University Hospital, Stanford, Calif.; Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston; Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis; and the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.

The magazine ranks hospitals -- generally, large teaching hospitals associated with medical schools -- in 16 specialties. By combining scores in the specialty areas, the magazine produced an "Honor Roll" of the best hospitals overall.

The ratings were based on the opinions of 2,400 board-certified specialists across the country, combined with more objective criteria such as mortality rates and measures of technological sophistication.

Hopkins topped the list in three specialties -- urology, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) and gynecology -- and ranked second in ophthalmology and rheumatology. It made the list of best hospitals in all of the 11 other specialties in the survey.

Three other Baltimore-area hospitals won honors in particular specialties.

Sinai Hospital -- making specialists' lists for the first time -- finished 31st in neurology and 40th in endocrinology. University of Maryland Medical Center ranked 32nd in endocrinology and 33rd in pulmonary medicine.

Greater Baltimore Medical Center, which operates the Milton Dance Head and Neck Rehabilitation Center, ranked 40th in otolaryngology. Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital was rated ninth-best in psychiatry.

Other organizations rank hospitals in other ways. For example, HCIA Inc., the Baltimore health data company, does an annual national "top 100" list that does not use prestige rankings.

The HCIA rankings are based on statistics that include death and complication rates, average lengths of stay, profitability and financial reserves, and shifts from inpatient to outpatient care. Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown was the only Maryland hospital to make the list this year, but Hopkins, St. Agnes HealthCare, GBMC and Mercy Medical Center have made the list previously.

In the competition for patients, hospitals have not hesitated to trumpet favorable survey results. Hopkins has hung poster-sized zTC enlargements of the past seven U.S. News covers in its front lobby.

Dr. Toby A. Gordon, Hopkins' vice president for planning and marketing, said the U.S. News survey has helped the hospital attract a national and international clientele. Hopkins once made its top ranking the centerpiece of advertisements in out-of-town newspapers, but now mentions the survey more subtly in the ad copy.

"We're actually careful not to adopt a sort of bragging tone -- at least we try not to," Gordon said.

Pub Date: 7/17/98

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