July 12, 2002

VUH makes U.S. News ‘honor roll’

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VUH makes U.S. News ‘honor roll’

Vanderbilt University Hospital has earned a place on the “honor roll” of the nation’s best hospitals in rankings released today by U.S. News and World Report.

This is the first time in the 13-year history of the magazine’s annual survey that Vanderbilt University Hospital and The Vanderbilt Clinic have scored in the top tier.

"I hope this news is gratifying to everyone here at the medical center," said Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs. "This ranking is based on their hard work, dedication and commitment to their patients and their science."

Vanderbilt was among 17 hospitals on this year’s honor roll, and the only one added to last year’s list of 16 medical centers. It also is the only medical center in Tennessee on the list. Others on the honor roll include Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Mo.

To earn a place on the honor roll, hospitals must receive high scores in at least six of 17 specialty areas. The scores reflect a hospital’s reputation based on surveys of physicians, mortality rates, registered nurse-to-bed ratios, specialized services like trauma, cancer and geriatrics, and other care-related factors.

Vanderbilt earned 8 points for high rankings in six specialty areas. Those areas included kidney disease, where Vanderbilt ranked 10th; otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), 11th; urology, 16th; orthopaedics, 17th; endocrinology (hormonal disorders such as diabetes and thyroid conditions), 17th; and respiratory disorders, 19th.

Vanderbilt also ranked among the top 50 in gynecology, cancer, rheumatology, and neurology/neurosurgery. An increase in the rankings in orthopaedics and respiratory disorders this year was enough to boost Vanderbilt into the honor roll.

"These rankings reflect what many of us have known for a long time — that Vanderbilt is among the very best hospitals in this country," said Norman B. Urmy, chief executive officer of VUH.

The rankings will be published in the July 22 issue of the newsmagazine, available on newsstands Monday.

“These hospitals excel partly because their doctors perform large numbers of tricky and risky procedures,” the magazine’s editors said in a news release. “Study piled upon study has shown the critical role of volume.

“In April, for example, a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine found that elderly patients had a death rate of 4 percent at hospitals that did many pancreatic cancer surgeries compared with 16 percent at hospitals that did relatively few,” they said. “Ranked hospitals tend to adhere more closely to advanced treatment guidelines, to incorporate new findings into patient care, and to conduct research that gives desperately ill patients more options.”

This year’s survey evaluated 1,958 hospitals that met requirements for membership in the Council of Teaching Hospitals or were otherwise affiliated with a medical school, or had specialized medical technology. The rankings, devised by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, include such factors as the number of procedures performed, the number of times a hospital is listed as the best in physician surveys during the past three years, and care-related factors including hospice and palliative care.

Each specialty’s 50 highest-scoring hospitals are listed.

In a separate survey by U.S. News and World Report conducted this spring, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine was ranked 16th out of 125 accredited medical schools in the United States for the third year in a row.