Somewhere in America, at a pace of about once per second, a patient checks into a hospital. With more than 33 million hospitalizations a year and so many patients on whom to sharpen their skills, hospitals could be expected to meet the most demanding standards for quality and safety.

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Yet too many hospitals fail even those whose medical needs are relatively straightforward – such as hip replacement, uncomplicated heart bypass surgery or removal of a cancerous section of colon. The hospital that makes treating patients like these its bread and butter is the very definition of a community hospital, and it should perform at a high standard.

Even fewer hospitals excel at caring for patients with especially challenging or complex diagnoses, for whom the stakes may be a matter of life or death. For those patients, venturing beyond a trusted community hospital to seek care at a truly exceptional medical center, even one farther from home, may be the wisest option.

To help readers narrow their search for hospitals that best match their needs, U.S. News ranks hospital performance in 16 areas of complex specialty care and rates hospitals in nine bellwether procedures and conditions such as heart bypass, hip and knee replacement, heart failure and lung cancer surgery.

The Best Hospitals Honor Roll takes both the specialty rankings and the procedure and condition ratings into account. Hospitals received points if they were nationally ranked in one of the 16 specialties – the more specialties and the higher their rank, the more points they got – and also if they were rated “high performing” in the nine procedures and conditions. The top 20 point-scorers made up the Honor Roll.

U.S. News 2019-20 Best Hospitals Honor Roll

Please see this blog post for important information about these rankings.

Best Regional Hospitals

For most illnesses, patients do not need to go to an Honor Roll hospital, which may require onerous travel and where they may face greater expense of being treated outside their insurance plan’s network. To help readers find high-quality medical centers closer to home, U.S. News created Best Regional Hospitals. Similar to the Honor Roll, these regional rankings provide an overall assessment of a hospital’s performance across multiple areas of care. To be recognized on this year’s list, a hospital must have been either nationally ranked in one of 12 key specialties or received ratings of high performing in three or more of the procedures and conditions.

If you’ve consulted past editions of Best Hospitals, you’re bound to notice some hospitals that have risen or fallen in the rankings. Don’t make too much of year-to-year movements. It takes multiple years of progressive change to know if a hospital is truly improving or worsening.

For patients and their physicians, these rankings and ratings should be seen as just a starting point. Individual diagnosis, insurance coverage and personal priorities are important factors in making a personal best choice. With the latest U.S. News hospital-quality data at their fingertips, they can make their choices with greater confidence.


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