Where Are the Best Children’s Hospitals in North Carolina?

U.S. News & World Report has announced its 12th annual Best Children’s Hospital ranking for 2018-2019. Four North Carolina hospitals ranked among the top 50 pediatric hospitals nationwide for at least one specialty.

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Levine Children's Hospital

The largest city and the educational hubs in North Carolina are the homes of the top children’s hospitals in the state. Among the high scorers were:

  • Duke Children's Hospital and Health Center in Durham 
  • C. Children's Hospital at UNC Chapel Hill
  • Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte
  • Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem

The News & Observer reports that two children’s hospitals in N.C. are in the Triangle – and less than 10 miles apart. This unique geographical factor may actually prevent the Duke Children’s Hospital and the N.C. Children’s Hospital at UNC Chapel Hill from scoring higher in national rankings. The two hospitals are at a disadvantage because they share patients in a smaller market. This is a good thing for patients – care is readily available at both hospitals. Rankings are based on a number of criteria. Learning from multiple complex conditions and treating high volumes of patients are two factors that are taken into consideration. Since both hospitals are so close, neither see high volumes or multiple cases that could aid in further study.

The News & Observer shares that the ranking criteria is varied:

“Certain types of hospitals tend to do well in the rankings. Hospitals that train doctors and conduct advanced research tend to be best equipped to handle the sickest patients, said Ben Harder, chief of health analysis and managing editor at U.S. News.

About a third of a hospital's score is based on outcomes such as survival, infections and surgical complications. The hospital's reputation among doctors accounts for about 15 percent of the score. About half the score comes from procedures for patient safety, excellence initiatives such as fellowship programs, and ‘family centeredness,’ which includes the degree to which families are involved in their children's care.”

While the ranking is prestigious and may draw in doctors and healthcare professionals from other parts of the country, it does not necessarily indicate that other hospitals in N.C. could not make the cut. The News & Observer notes that, to be evaluated, hospitals must submit a clinical survey with more than a thousand items describing safety procedures, staffing levels and other details. Hospitals with smaller staffs may not have the time nor the resources to fill out the lengthy application. WakeMed Health & Hospitals, for example, did not submit the lengthy application to U.S. News.

The News & Observer continues:

“Like all organizations that rank and score hospitals for safety and performance, U.S. News says its scores should not be the only criterion used by patients to select a hospital. Parents should also consider insurance coverage as well as the stress of traveling out of state for their child's care.

A hospital's ranking ultimately depends on outcomes, process and structure, U.S. News said. Outcomes refers to keeping children alive and preventing infections. Process refers to adopting industry "best practices," such as regular doctor conferences on patient deaths. And structure refers to nurse-to-patient ratios, specialized clinics and the availability of specialized surgeons.”

Nationwide, the 2018-19 Best Children's Hospitals were:

1. Boston Children's Hospital
2. Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
3. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
4. Texas Children's Hospital
5. Children's National Medical Center
6. Children's Hospital Los Angeles
7. Nationwide Children's Hospital
8. Johns Hopkins Children's Center 
9. Children's Hospital Colorado
10. Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago

For more details, visit U.S. News & World Report.

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