Vanderbilt Medical Center makes this year’s U.S. News & World Report’s Honor Roll of Best Hospitals

by Craig Boerner

U.S. News & World Report is listing Vanderbilt Medical Center on its “Honor Roll” of hospitals — an honor reserved for a select group of institutions labeled by the magazine as the “best of the best.”

Vanderbilt ranks 15th in the nation in the 2008 issue of “America's Best Hospitals.” Only 19 hospitals made the honor roll.

“It is great recognition of the quality of patient care, education and research throughout Vanderbilt, as well as the ambition of a community striving together to be excellent,” said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

“Today is validation of what we have known here for some time now — what we are doing at Vanderbilt, and where we are heading at this Medical Center, is uncharted territory among health care providers,” Jacobson said.

“And we are doing this with a workforce that is truly innovative and excellent across the board.”

To be eligible for the honor roll an institution is required to have high rankings in at least six specialties; Vanderbilt earned its inclusion with 12 points in seven specialties.

Eight VMC specialty programs ranked among the top 50 in their respective fields, including Gynecology (9), Kidney (9), Urology (10), Cancer (14), Ear Nose and Throat (14), Endocrinology (15), Respiratory Disorders (18) and Heart (23). No other Tennessee hospital made the list in any category.

“Talent and money alone don't put hospitals in the rankings,” Best Hospitals editor Avery Comarow said.

“The truly best hospitals are never satisfied. Of course they have high medical standards. But the emphasis is not only on doing well, but always doing better — squeezing another few percentage points out of the infection rate, improving the quality of life of elderly patients besides helping more of them survive.”

Only 170 of 5,462 hospitals screened nationwide were ranked among the 16 specialty categories designated by the magazine.

VMC has earned the top-tier honor roll recognition for hospitals three times since the magazine began its annual rankings issue 19 years ago.

“This is a landmark accomplishment for the entire institution and verification that we have outstanding faculty, nurses and hospital staff,” said Martin Sandler, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Hospital Affairs.

C. Wright Pinson, M.D., M.B.A., associate vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs, said Vanderbilt's ambitious goal of being among the best health facilities in the world is being realized.

“We have focused on improving our quality, service and work environment. We know we are making progress in all of these areas, and it's gratifying to have an external ranking that confirms that progress,” Pinson said.

Johns Hopkins Hospital led the U.S. News honor roll with 30 points in 15 specialties, followed by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., with 28 points in 15 specialties, UCLA Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Vanderbilt was ranked ahead of Stanford Hospital and Clinics (16), University of Chicago Medical Center (17), Cedars-Sinai (18) and Yale-New Haven Hospital (19).

RTI International, Research Triangle Park, N.C., compiled all hospital data and generated the 2008 rankings on behalf of U.S. News. “America's Best Hospitals” 2008 edition is scheduled to hit newsstands Monday, July 14. 

Rankings in 12 of the 16 specialties weigh three elements equally: reputation, death rate, and a set of care-related factors such as nursing and patient services. In these 12 specialties, hospitals have to pass through several gates to be ranked and considered a “Best Hospital.”

Eligible hospitals must be either a teaching hospital, affiliated with a teaching hospital, or have at least six important medical technologies from a defined list of 13.

The hospital must have either a specified volume in certain procedures and conditions over three years, or have been nominated in the U.S. News annual specialist survey to be ranked in a specialty.

In the four other specialties — ophthalmology, psychiatry, rehabilitation and rheumatology — ranking is based solely on reputation, derived from the three most recent physician surveys.

The full rankings list can be accessed at

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