Johns Hopkins Hospital moved up to third from fourth in the latest rankings of American hospitals by U.S. News and World Report, but fell short of reclaiming the top spot it once held for 22 years.
The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota took the coveted No. 1 ranking in the assessment of hospitals released Tuesday, while the Cleveland Clinic ranked second. The U.S. News rankings compared more than 4,500 medical centers in 25 specialties, procedures and conditions.
U.S. News also ranked hospitals by each state, and Hopkins came in first in the comparison of Maryland hospitals. The University of Maryland Medical Center was ranked the state's second-best hospital.
"We recognize how fortunate the people of this region are to have two strong research-focused academic medical centers to go to for care," said Karen Lancaster, a spokeswoman for the medical center.
Mercy Medical Center was tied for third best hospital in the state. It ranked nationally in orthopedics for the second year, rising from 47 to 38. It was the only community hospital in Maryland to achieve a national ranking in orthopedics. Mercy was also named a "high performing" hospital in five of seven categories, including hip replacement, knee replacement, colon cancer surgery, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure.
"Once again, we are very pleased to receive this recognition from U.S. News & World Report, capping another successful fiscal year of achievements for Mercy," Thomas R. Mullen, president and CEO of Mercy Medical Center, said in a statement. "It is indicative of the hard work, dedication and skill of Mercy physicians, nurses, and staff who put the mission of The Sisters of Mercy into practice every day."
Sinai Hospital of Baltimore was also ranked third in the state. It was not ranked in any specialty, but was also considered a high performing hospital.
Hopkins started slipping in the national rankings in 2012 when the magazine changed its methodology to put less emphasis on reputation. It has also begun analyzing more outcomes of common procedures than it once did.
While Hopkins would relish being No. 1 again, Dr. Redonda Miller, the hospital's president, said, this year's showing left it in good company.
"We are thrilled to be among such an illustrious group of hospitals in the top 10," Miller said.
The report reviewed the performance of hospitals in areas from complex, high-risk cancer care to common procedures such as knee replacement surgery, said Ben Harder, chief of health analysis at U.S. News & World Report.
The data is meant to help patients make informed decisions about where they seek care, he said. The rankings draw more than 1 million people per month to the publication's website, he said.
Hopkins also ranked among the top three hospitals nationwide in five specialties: gastroenterology, neurology and neurosurgery, ophthalmology, rheumatology, and ear, nose and throat. It also was dubbed an "honor roll" hospital, or one of 20 institutions that U.S. News said delivered exceptional treatment across multiple areas.
A drop in rankings does not necessarily mean a hospital is not as good as it once was, Harder said.
"A change in performance over time doesn't necessarily reflect a change in a hospital's quality of care," he said. "When we make a methodology change — and we make refinements almost every year — it's not possible to make an exact year-on-year comparison. Our goal is not to compare each hospital to its past self, but rather to compare it to other contemporary hospitals."
While some rankings can be important, Miller said that it's what Hopkins' patients think that matters the most. The hospital uses patient surveys, comments and letters to help assess patient sentiment, she said.
"No single ranking really perfectly reflects the excellence of a hospital," she said.
Lancaster, of the University of Maryland Medical Center, said U.S. News doesn't analyze some areas where the hospital is strong, including transplants and trauma care.