July 9, 1999

VUMC specialties make strides in national ranking

VUMC specialties make strides in national ranking

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is ranked among the leading centers in treating the top two killers in the United States – heart disease and cancer – in the latest "America's Best Hospitals" list by U.S. News and World Report.

VUMC made the list of leading centers in cardiology and heart surgery for the first time, coming in at No. 30. The Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center continued its steady climb, coming in at No. 16 in cancer care, up from 21 last year and 35 the year before.

The 10th annual assessment of health care facilities is designed as a guide for consumers looking for the best medical care in 16 specialties. This year's complete guide is published in the newsmagazine's July 12 issue and can also be accessed on-line at www.usnews.com.

This year, VUMC was listed among the nation's best in a total of 10 specialty areas. In addition to cardiology and heart surgery, first-time entrants also included the digestive tract, 48th, and orthopaedics, 50th. Other specialties in which VUMC was again listed among the best were respiratory care, 12th; urology, 30th; ear, nose and throat, 15th; gynecology, 23rd; hormonal disorders, 13th; and rheumatology, 24th.

"We are extremely proud and pleased that VUMC has once again been ranked among the best in the nation and that the number of areas of specialty in which we are so recognized continues to grow," said Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs. "While this is only one indicator of quality, national recognition such as this is an important step in achieving our goal of becoming regarded as one of the premiere academic medical institutions in the nation."

The U.S. News rankings use a statistical method developed by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), a noted social science research group at the University of Chicago, to rank the quality of the nation's hospitals each year.

To be eligible for ranking in any of the 16 specialties, a hospital had to meet at least one of three requirements – affiliation with a medical school, membership in the Council of Teaching Hospitals or a minimum of nine out of 17 key technologies readily available.

The only other hospital in the region to appear on the list in any specialty was St. Thomas Hospital.

The 16 specialties ranked by U.S. News are cancer; cardiology and heart surgery; hormonal disorders; digestive tract; geriatrics; gynecology; neurology and neurosurgery; eye care; orthopaedics; ear, nose and throat; pediatrics; psychiatry; respiratory disorders; rehabilitation; rheumatology; and urology.

In 12 of the specialties, the newsmagazine ranked the top 50 centers in the nation based on a mathematical model that combines reputation score with statistics and information related to quality, such as the ratio of registered nurses to beds and mortality rate. The reputation score is obtained in a rolling three-year survey of physicians board-certified in the relevant specialty. Each year 150 physicians per specialty are selected at random and asked to name the five hospitals they consider to be the best in their specialty, without consideration of cost or location.

In four of the specialties – pediatrics, eye care, psychiatry and rehabilitation – rankings were compiled based on reputation alone. To be ranked, a center must be cited in the reputation survey by at least 3 percent of the specialists who responded over a three-year period.