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22-07-2012 | Article

Mass General ranked top US hospital for 2012-13


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MedWire News: After 21 years of playing second fiddle, Massachusetts General Hospital has earned bragging rights as the USA's "Best nationally ranked hospital."

Mass General, as it is widely known, joins its sister institution Brigham & Women's Hospital, also in Boston, Massachusetts, in the "honor roll" of 17 top US hospitals, according to annual rankings published in U.S. News & World Report. Brigham & Women's ranked 9th overall in the national standings.

Mass General for the first time edged out the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, which held the top spot for the previous 21 years. John's Hopkins is ranked second this year.

Boston and New York City were the only two US cities with more than one hospital in the honor roll. New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell came in at number seven overall, New York University Langone Medical Center earned the 11th spot, and the Big Apple's Mount Sinai Medical Center claimed the 14th-best ranking.

Magazine staff surveyed nearly 10,000 specialists and examined data on 4793 US hospitals, ranking each hospital according to its expertise in 16 adult specialties. The rankings also included death rates, patient safety, hospital reputation, and patient satisfaction measures.

"To be nationally ranked, a hospital must excel across a range of tough cases within a given specialty," the magazine's editors write. "For example, a hospital nationally ranked in cardiology and heart surgery ‑ one of 16 specialties in which U.S. News evaluates medical centers ‑ can be expected to have doctors with the talent and experience to replace a faulty heart valve in a patient well into his or her 90s. Most hospitals would decline to perform major surgery on such elderly patients, as they should if they aren't up to speed on the special techniques and precautions involved and don't see many such patients."

The writers also note that "at hospitals ranked in neurology and neurosurgery, surgeons face more spinal tumors in a couple of weeks than most community hospitals see in a year."

By Neil Osterweil