Johns Hopkins Hospital has been ranked the nation's best hospital for the fourth consecutive year in U.S. News & World Report's annual survey of medical centers.
Besides being rated as the best hospital overall, Hopkins earned top-10 ratings in 15 of 16 specialties considered. In one of those fields -- obstetrics and gynecology -- it placed first.
"This is a wonderful tribute to this hospital, its incredibly fine staff, to the Hopkins School of Medicine physicians and staff, and to the physicians in our community who refer patients to us every day and with whom we have such close ties,' said Dr. James A. Block, president of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System.
"Most of all, the accolades affirm our assurances of quality care ,, to our patients -- and that's what we're here for."
Two other local hospitals earned high ranks in particular specialties. Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Towson was rated sixth in psychiatry, and Kernan Hospital in West Baltimore was rated 14th in orthopedics. Kernan is part of the University of Maryland Medical System.
Additionally, the Chestnut Lodge Hospital in Rockville was ranked 13th in psychiatry.
The ratings, which appear in the magazine this week, were determined with the help of the National Opinion Research Center, a research firm that polled 2,400 physicians representing the 16 specialties and all geographic regions.
The firm, based at the University of Chicago, got responses from about half the doctors.
Using a mathematical model, U.S. News combined three years of "reputational survey" results with other measures of hospital quality -- including death rates, nurse-to-bed ratios, technological sophistication and the percentage of doctors certified by specialty organizations.
The overall rankings were determined by comparing the number of times a hospital earned top-10 ratings in the specialties. Second to Hopkins was the Mayo Clinic of Rochester, Minn., 14 specialties; third was the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, 12.
Along with its top distinction in gynecology, Hopkins was ranked second in AIDS, gastroenterology, ophthalmology, ear-nose-and-throat and urology; third in neurology, pediatrics and psychiatry; fourth in orthopedics; fifth in geriatrics and rheumatology; seventh in cancer and endocrinology; and eighth in cardiology.
The Mayo Clinic was rated best in four specialties -- cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology and urology.
The number of times a hospital rated "best" in particular specialties was not a factor in the overall rating.
Dr. Edward E. Wallach, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology, said his department's top rating came as a "pleasant surprise." He said the department mixes the basics of primary care medicine with the sophistication of a leading research center dedicated to finding new treatments and diagnostic procedures for complicated pregnancies and births.
"As an example, we have outstanding nurse midwives who work with our high-risk obstetrical group," he said. "The midwives are there to work with the normal deliveries, but if the patients develop complications, they don't have . . . to go very far.
"The same thing goes for our infertility services," he said. "We run the gamut from straightforward care for infertile couples to in vitro fertilization and other assisted reproductive technologies."
Another measure of the department's excellence, he said, is the number of faculty members recruited for top positions at other hospitals. In the past 10 years, he said, five of his faculty have become department chairmen elsewhere.
MAGAZINE'S BEST HOSPITALS
Here are the top 12 hospitals in the United States, as ranked by news magazine U.S. News & World Report.
RANK ... INSTITUTION ... ... ... ... ... ... ... LOCATION
1. .. .. Johns Hopkins Hospital .. .. .. ... ... Baltimore
2. .. .. Mayo Clinic ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Rochester, Minn.
3. .. .. UCLA Medical Center ... ... ... ... ... Los Angeles
4. .. .. Massachusetts General Hospital .. .. .. Boston
5. .. .. Duke Univ. Medical Center ... ... .. .. Durham, N.C.
6. .. .. Cleveland Clinic ... ... ... ... ... .. Cleveland
7. .. .. U. of Calif. San Francisco Medical Center ... San Francisco
8. .. .. U. of Washington Medical Center ... ... Seattle
9. .. .. Barnes Hospital ... ... ... ... ... ... St. Louis
10. ... Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center ... New York
11. ... U. of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center ... Houston
12. ... Brigham and Women's Hospital .. .. .. .. Boston