Helping You Choose the Best Hospital For Your Needs

Rankings matter, but so do the people who give the care.


A lot of data goes into our annual “Best Hospitals” rankings, just as a lot of data underlies so much of modern medicine. But people matter, too. It’s just that not everything they contribute to a patient can be measured. You’ll see what I mean when you take a look at Avery Comarow’s remarkable story about Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The staff’s combination of technical skill and personal care has made it one of the country’s best and a case study we can all learn from.

Like each of the eight children’s hospitals that made our honor roll this year, Cincinnati Children’s does well in many specialities. Comarow zeroed in on how it handles the baffling disease known as cystic fibrosis and shows how rigorous the caregivers are about finding best practices while giving its young patients humane treatment. The photos by Charlie Archambault give you a frank understanding of the daily struggles of a child with a chronic disease that no set of statistics could ever convey.

Powerful numbers. Much as we’d like to, we can’t tell this kind of story for every hospital that makes our list. We survey nearly 5,000 of the nation’s hospitals and select the few hundred top performers in key specialties. And we know from experience that the numbers also tell important stories. Our hospital rankings have long provided some vital benchmarks for consumers and medical professionals. In this issue, you’ll find detailed tables of the various specialities as well as the overall honor roll for those hospitals that do well in many categories. If you’re looking for more information, you can  check out our searchable directory of most of the nation’s hospitals to help you make comparisons.

Beyond the numbers, we also take you through some of the critical issues to consider if you or a loved one is facing the prospect of a hospital stay. The experience is a daunting one, even in the best of circumstances. But the shifting rules of healthcare make it imperative that you think about things like insurance, billing, and patient options before you walk through the door.

We’ve always thought that helping you to be an informed patient was part of our job at U.S. News. We want to provide you with the tools and expert advice to help you understand the changing world of medicine and how it affects you. As the murky health reform mandates start to take shape, we think keeping up with those changes will be more important than ever before. I’d like to hear how you think we’re doing, how we could do better, and what your own experience is with the medical system these days. Share your thoughts below.

  • Check out our editorial cartoons on healthcare.
  • See which members of Congress get the most from hospitals and nursing homes.
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