U.S. News ranks metro Atlanta hospitals

U.S. News & World Report has produced its first ranking of hospitals by metro area, and Emory University Hospital came out No. 1 in Atlanta.

The publication’s ranking of Emory nationally in 11 medical specialties helped push it to the top spot in metro Atlanta.

U.S. News is widely known for its rankings of colleges and graduate programs, and has done national hospital rankings for years. The hospital data, though, do not include information on how much procedures cost, a major consideration in decision making by consumers — especially those with high-deductible health plans.

Here’s the rest of the metro Atlanta top 10, and the link to the rankings:

2. Shepherd Center

3. Piedmont Hospital

4. Emory University Hospital Midtown

5. WellStar Kennestone Hospital6. St. Joseph’s Hospital

7. Northside Hospital

8. WellStar Cobb Hospital

9. Eastside Medical Center

10. Grady Memorial Hospital

10. Southern Regional Medical Center

Any hospital that’s nationally ranked even in just one specialty was listed above others that are called ‘’high-performing’’ in multiple specialties but not nationally ranked in any, the magazine said of its rankings methodology.

Piedmont, for example, had 11 high-performing specialties, more than other hospitals, but none on a national level. And Shepherd Center, a rehabilitation hospital, was nationally ranked in that category.

“The No. 1 hospital in a metro area is not necessarily the best in town for all patients,’’ the magazine said. “Other hospitals may outshine it in various specialties. We expect that savvy consumers will consider not merely a hospital’s overall rank in the metro area, but its expertise in the specialty relevant to their care.’’

Emory Healthcare CEO John Fox said Monday of the rankings, “We’re obviously very pleased. A lot of people worked tremendously hard in these programs to achieve this.’’

Les Donahue, CEO of Piedmont, said in a statement: “Piedmont prides itself on providing diverse, high-quality services to our patients. We value both clinical excellence and patient satisfaction, and we’re proud to offer some of the most consistent, exemplary care in the Southeast.”

Charles Goldberg, an Atlanta-based health care consultant, said Monday after reviewing the list, “Survey methodology aside, they’re all good hospitals.’’

He also noted that in the national rankings methodology, reputation among physicians counted for 32.5 percent of a hospital’s score. “It makes the survey a little more subjective than what you may want,’’ Goldberg said.

Emory’s Fox said reputation among physicians is a good indicator of who are the leading hospitals in a market.

Comparing the number of patients with certain conditions who died within 30 days of admission to the expected number also counted for 32.5 percent of a hospital’s score in the national rankings. Patient safety accounted for 5 percent, with the rest of the score, 30 percent, a combination of factors such as nurse-to-patient staffing ratios and technology.

The rankings appear to favor the large academic medical centers, which may offer many more medical programs than hospitals that are considered more community-based, Goldberg said.

U.S. News didn’t rate trauma services, Goldberg noted. “Grady is the best trauma [facility} in the city,’’ he said.

Another missing ingredient is infection rates, a hot topic related to hospitals’ performance.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services now has included data related to catheter-associated infections on its Hospital Compare website. Here’s a CMS explanation on hospital-acquired conditions, which has a link to the Hospital Compare site. The American Hospital Association has objected to the release of the error data, saying that the calculations have not been reviewed for accuracy, Modern Healthcare reported.

Meanwhile, new guidelines on preventing intravascular catheter-related infections have been issued this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.