January 26th, 2011
12:17 PM ET

Study names cities with top hospital care

West Palm Beach, Florida; Brownsville, Texas; and Dayton, Ohio top the list of cities with the best hospital care according to HealthGrades, an independent health care ratings organization.

The HealthGrades list may surprise some who may have thought Cleveland or Houston or New York might top the list. But to get high marks, a city has to have the most "high performing" hospitals. For example, West Palm Beach, Florida, which ranks No. 1,  has nine out of 12 of its hospitals listed as excellent. Other cities in the Top 5 include Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and Tucson, Arizona.

This doesn't mean that if you're searching for the best cancer center you won't want to consider a facility like the Cleveland Clinic or the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  But what this does indicate, according to HealthGrades, is that certain cities have a higher percentage of hospitals that excel so no matter which hospital you choose, you're likely to get excellent care.

Researchers looked at medical data for 40 million Medicare patients at almost 5,000 non-federal hospitals from 2007 – 2009.

Hospital rankings were based on patient death rates and in hospital complications for about two dozen hospital procedures or illnesses ranging from heart attack, stroke and pneumonia, to back surgery and hip replacement surgery.

Researchers found that, overall, patients in top performing hospitals had about a 30 percent lower risk of death and a 2 percent lower risk of complications compared  with other hospitals.

The study estimates that if all the hospitals had performed at these higher levels the lives of more than 150,000 patients could potentially have been saved, and about 3,500 potential complications prevented.

Nancy Foster with the American Hospital Association says her organization is not always in agreement with the hospital rankings of HealthGrades.

"Patients should look at this information and think about its significance to them in the care they would seek and begin to ask questions of their local hospitals about what that hospital is doing to ensure the safety of care provided so that patients have the best possible outcome," explains Foster.

She suggests patients also look at other sources such as Hospital Compare, a Health and Human Services website for information about hospital quality.

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Thom

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    I’ve determined my goal for my 60th birthday will be a 60K (60 km = 37 miles & 496.7 yards) on January 29th, 2011. I’m going to Run/Walk 60 kilometers on the Arizona Canal. We are still working on the exact course and logistics of “Partner Points”, areas where people that want to support me can meet me for a few miles of hiking and/or jogging to keep me company and to make sure I am not floating face down in the canal. My tentative course will start at Herberger Park on Indian School and 58th Street and travel west toward the Peoria Sports Complex to about 67th Avenue and back again.

    January 26, 2011 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Ally

    I went and looked at the page with the actual study information and was very disappointed with what I found. The studies were based merely on Medicare patients' outcomes (a very different demographic from myself) and seemed a simultaneously biased and ephemeral study (at least based on the write-up). If I'm ill, I'm going to go to the nearest hospital (I divide my time between two cities with world renowned hospital systems) and if I'm having a planned procedure, I'll find out the best place to do that. I don't find this study to be anything definitive or that I would really consult for hospital care.

    January 26, 2011 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. MK

    Ally... interesting... so that explains why West Palm Beach FL was #1... let's look at the ratio of Medicare pt's there to, say, any other city in the US.

    January 27, 2011 at 02:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. LdyDi

    I live in West Palm and have heard nothing but complaints about the hospitals here. They are overcrowded and apathetic. We had much better care in SW Michigan.

    February 14, 2011 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Eddie

    The funny thing about Dayton is that I've only ever known of 5 people that have had severe complications resulting from their hospital stay (2 with MRSA, 2 with an infection from surgery, 1 with an allergic reaction to a medication they informed the staff about) . . .All 5 of those people were patients of Dayton area hospitals. And I've only lived here for 3 years. I must say that the Wright Patterson AFB hospital is extremely good, and I know its one of the reasons many vets decide to stay in the area. The other hospitals, however definitely leave something to be desired.

    February 20, 2011 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Bunny Barba

    You must be your own patient advocate. Question everything, if you are too sick, get a good friend to be with you as much as possible. Do not put up with anyone who does not wash hands or wear clean gloves. Do not put up with an incompetant doctor because your plan has him or her on their list. Check every website about your condition and the qualifications of your doctor. I live in Marion County FL and there is only one hospital I would even think of using. By the way when you go to your doctor if you are only seen by the PA get out fast. A doctor should spend at least 20 minutes with you. MOST HMO's make a fortune on alll of us.

    June 10, 2012 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
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