The ranking of “America's Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report for “Heart and Heart Surgery” is a popular hospital profiling system, but it is not known if hospitals ranked by the magazine vs nonranked hospitals have lower risk-standardized, 30-day mortality rates (RSMRs) for patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
Using a hierarchical regression model based on 2003 Medicare administrative data, we calculated RSMRs for ranked and nonranked hospitals in the treatment of AMI. We identified ranked and nonranked hospitals with standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) significantly less than the mean expected for all hospitals in the study.
We compared 13 662 patients in 50 ranked hospitals with 254 907 patients in 3813 nonranked hospitals. The RSMRs were lower in ranked vs nonranked hospitals (16.0% vs 17.9%, P<.001). The RSMR range for ranked vs nonranked hospitals overlapped (11.4%-20.0% vs 13.1%-23.3%, respectively). In an RSMR quartile distribution of all hospitals, 35 ranked hospitals (70%) were in the lowest RSMR or best performing quartile, 11 (22%) were in the middle 2 quartiles, and 4 (8%) were in the highest RSMR or worst performing quartile. There were 11 ranked hospitals (22%) and 28 nonranked hospitals (0.73%) that each had an SMR significantly less than 1 (defined by a 95% confidence interval with an upper limit of <1.0).
On average, admission to a ranked hospital for AMI was associated with a lower risk of 30-day mortality, although about one-third of the ranked hospitals fell outside the best performing quartile based on RSMR. Although ranked hospitals were much more likely to have an SMR significantly less than 1, many more nonranked hospitals had this distinction.