Best Children’s Hospitals 2012-13: The Honor Roll

These 12 hospitals excel in caring for sick kids


Photos of the Best Children's Hospitals

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Not that many children get sick enough to see the inside of a hospital room for more than an overnight stay. But if it's your child who is one of the exceptions and, to raise the stakes even higher, if the illness or disorder calls for the utmost in medical skill, what do you do?

There's nothing hypothetical about the question for parents of a child with a defective heart, or an enzyme deficiency that prevents proper digestion. Out of all roughly 5,000 U.S. hospitals, only about 1 in 30 has rock-solid expertise in caring for children with serious problems. For youngsters who need that quality of care, the Best Children's Hospitals rankings showcase medical centers that see a steady stream of kids with cancer, cystic fibrosis, defective hearts, and countless other life-threatening or rare conditions beyond the capabilities of most hospitals, even those with sizable pediatric departments.

The 2012-13 Best Children's Hospitals features 80 different hospitals that ranked among the top 50 in at least one of 10 specialties: cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology, neonatology, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, pulmonology, and urology. Of the 80 ranked hospitals, 12 were named to the Honor Roll for high scores in three or more specialties.

The rankings rely on an extensive data survey sent to a carefully selected set of hospitals, and a reputational survey sent to pediatric specialists. For the specialist survey, 150 physicians in each specialty were asked to name up to five hospitals they consider best for children with serious or difficult problems in their field, without regard to cost or geography. The last three years of responses were totaled.

Most of the 178 centers that were asked to complete the 95-page data survey are freestanding children's hospitals or large, multispecialty pediatric departments of major medical centers, run with their own staffs, ORs, and other facilities as if they were a hospital within a hospital. Other children's facilities were surveyed because they were previously ranked or were recommended by trusted sources. This year 100 hospitals completed the survey.

The 12 Honor Roll hospitals excelled in at least three specialties. They are ordered by points—2 points if they ranked in the top 5 percent of all hospitals in a specialty and 1 point if they ranked in the top 6 to 10 percent.

Corrected 6/14/2012: Some hospitals on the Honor Roll were initially misranked because of a programming error that affected their scores. Correct rankings are now displayed. Get details here.