- For the first time, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., takes the No. 1 spot on U.S. News' annual list of top hospitals, edging out Massachusetts General in Boston. Coming in third is Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which in 2012 lost its 21-year first-place ranking. The Cleveland Clinic is ranked fourth overall, but first in cardiology, heart surgery ranking and in urology.
- U.S. News' 2014-15 rankings cover nearly 5,000 U.S. medical centers across 16 medical specialties from cancer to urology. In all, 17 hospitals that "scored near the top" in at least six specialties earned a spot on this year's honor roll.
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York ranks first in cancer care. Mayo ranks first in eight of the 16 listed specialties, including gynecology, gastroenterology and GI surgery and pulmonology.
U.S. News said it sifted through data for nearly 5,000 hospitals and results from surveys of more than 9,500 physicians to rank the best medical centers in the 16 adult specialties. Death rates, patient safety and hospital reputation were a few of the many factors that were considered, U.S. News said, and in the end only 144 hospitals were nationally ranked in a specialty.
U.S. News has been in the business of reporting on "America's Best Hospitals" for awhile: the rankings debuted in 1990. The magazine initially described the concept as a breakthrough since hospitals hadn't been publicly rated before. Yet U.S. News has conceded that its first effort was "decidedly modest," listing eight to 16 hospitals in a dozen specialties based on a survey of 400 physicians. Without access to apples-to-apples clinical data initially, its evaluation relied solely on hospitals’ reputations. Now the magazine touts its methodological improvements over the years.
Still, comparative public data on hospitals now abound. As parents tell their children to take U.S. News rankings of colleges and universities with a big grain of salt—and some elite colleges publicly question their value—should consumers also look upon the latest hospital rankings (and hospitals' heavy use of them for marketing purposes) with careful deliberation?