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VUMC scores hospital ranking ‘honor roll’

BY: LESLIE HILL

7/21/2011 - Once again, Vanderbilt University Medical Center has achieved distinction as one of the nation’s leading health care providers from U.S. News and World Report in the publication’s annual rankings for “America’s Best Hospitals.”

This year, VUMC garnered a best-ever No. 14 ranking on U.S. News’ national “Honor Roll,” the designation reserved for a select group of the nation’s highest-performing health care providers.

Just 17 hospitals made the national Honor Roll. According to U.S. News, this distinction signals an institution’s rare breadth and depth of medical excellence.

VUMC’s specialty programs also equaled an institutional best with 11 out of a possible 16 medical specialties ranking this year.

“This is a wonderful accomplishment for our institution, further validating the strength of our hospitals, clinics and specialty programs,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and CEO of the Vanderbilt Health System. “I want to congratulate our faculty, staff and administration for this significant achievement. Such distinction is testament to the sustained teamwork and commitment necessary to achieve this honor.”

In the report released this week, the following VUMC specialties ranked among the nation’s best in their respective fields: Urology (9), Nephrology (12), Diabetes & Endocrinology (14), Ear, Nose & Throat (14), Pulmonology (15), Gastroenterology (17), Cardiology & Heart Surgery (23), Cancer (26), Neurology & Neurosurgery (37), Orthopaedics (47), and Gynecology (49).

“These rankings are further acknowledgment for what we have long known about Vanderbilt. We are leading the way both nationally and internationally in health care quality and innovation,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “It is rewarding for the talent and dedication demonstrated by our faculty and staff to be highlighted so prominently among our peers.”

VUMC’s Departments of Neurology & Neurological Surgery, together in a combined category by U.S. News, re-entered the rankings this year, while the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation also moved up among competing national programs to join this year’s rankings.

The Medical Center’s programs in Geriatrics also received recognition as “high-performing,” a U.S. News distinction reserved for top regional programs.

Earlier this year VUMC was also ranked No. 1 in a new “Best Metro” rankings methodology established by U.S. News to acknowledge hospitals at the local and regional levels.

This year, only 140 of the 4,825 hospitals evaluated by U.S. News performed well enough to rank in even one specialty. And of the 140, just 17 qualified for a spot on the Honor Roll by ranking at or near the top in six or more specialties.

Performance and outcome data influence rankings for 12 of the 16 specialties. Specialty programs at each hospital receive a composite score based on components such as reputation, mortality, patient safety and other patient care-related indicators including nurse staffing and patient services. Reputational scores play an important role in the ranking for all 16 specialties.

“The mission of the annual U.S. News Best Hospitals ranking has not changed in 21 years: to guide patients who need an unusually high level of hospital care,” said Avery Comarow, U.S. News health rankings editor. “Best Hospitals judges medical centers on their competence in complex, demanding situations, often with high-risk patients.”

RTI International, based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., compiles all data and produces each year’s rankings for U.S. News.

The “America's Best Hospitals” 2011-2012 edition is accessible online at www.usnews.com/besthospitals This year’s national rankings and the regional rankings for the 51 largest metro areas will also appear in the Best Hospitals 2011-12 print guide published by U.S. News, available on newsstands Aug 30.

As reported in May, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt was included among the nation’s leaders in pediatric health care, achieving rankings in a maximum 10 out of 10 pediatric specialty programs in U.S. News’ annual listing of “America's Best Children's Hospitals.”

This year, Children's Hospital’s programs were ranked the following: Urology (5), Neonatology (11), Cardiology and Heart Surgery (20), Gastroenterology (22), Diabetes and Endocrinology (25), Orthopaedics (29), Pulmonology (36), Nephrology (39), Neurology and Neurosugery (39) and Cancer (41).

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