Error leaves University off U.S. News top hospital list

Megan Boldt

U.S. News and World Report published its list of “America’s Best Hospitals” last month, but the perennially ranked Fairview-University Medical Center was nowhere to be found among the top hospitals this year.
Yet representatives for Fairview-University say the medical center’s disappearance from the list of the nations top 188 hospitals was the result of an administrative error and not because of decline in quality of care.
“The hospital has always done fairly well in the past,” said Teri Charest, a spokeswoman for the University’s Academic Health Center. “We had no idea what went wrong.”
The medical center was consistently ranked ever since the magazine started rating hospitals a decade ago.
Jean Tracy, a spokeswoman for medical center, was also surprised. After talking to representatives from the National Opinion Research Center — the group hired by the magazine to create and compile the rankings — Tracy figured out what went wrong.
“It appears we did not have one of the three surveys on file,” Tracy said.
For the last 10 years, U.S. News and World Report has evaluated data from almost 6,300 U.S. hospitals. The magazine systematically ranks the hospitals by evaluating surveys on reputation, mortality rate and other data, such as technology.
To assess reputation, 2,400 board-certified specialists are asked to name the top five hospitals in their field.
The death rates shown are adjusted to reflect a patient’s principal diagnosis and secondary problems.
Other data is collected mostly from the American Hospital Association’s annual surveys. The medical center failed to return the survey to the association. When the rankings were published, the magazine did not have the medical center’s survey results on file.
In the past, hospitals that failed to complete the association’s survey were dropped from the list. But this year, six other hospitals also failed to return the survey results but were still included in the magazine’s rankings.
“People here were trying to figure out why these hospitals were not dropped and we were,” Charest said.
According to the National Opinion Research Center, data was taken from surveys from years past and then averaged.
Representatives from the National Opinion Research Center were unavailable for comment.
“They couldn’t use old data for us, because the hospital changed its entity in 1997 to Fairview-University Medical Center,” Tracy said.
The magazine ranked Rochester’s Mayo Clinic falling a close second to Johns Hopkins Hospital.