Following online publication of Best Children's Hospitals 2012-13, we learned from our contractor about programming errors that affected the rankings of hospitals across seven specialties as well as the order of several Honor Roll hospitals.
In Cancer, Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Gastroenterology, Nephrology, and Pulmonology, a measure of hospitals' success in eliminating a particular kind of bloodstream infection was improperly programmed. Some hospitals did not receive partial credit.
In Cancer, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, and Nephrology, an infection prevention measure was improperly calculated.
In Cancer, some hospitals did not receive partial credit in a measure that reflects survival following bone marrow transplantation.
In Neonatology, an extraneous element was included in calculating the ratio of nurses to patients.
Across the affected specialties, correcting the errors moved 70 hospitals up or down in one or more rankings. There were 37 rankings changes in Cancer, 33 in Neonatology, 30 in both Gastroenterology and Pulmonology, 23 in Nephrology, 20 in Cardiology & Heart Surgery, and one in Diabetes & Endocrinology.
Five hospitals, each in one specialty, fell below #50 to position #51 or #52 as a result of the corrections. U.S. News will not remove these hospitals from the rankings, since the computational errors were not their responsibility. The affected specialty rankings have been extended beyond #50 to include them. As a result of those extensions, we added one hospital that was previously unranked in Cancer and one that was previously unranked in Gastroenterology to those specialties.
In the Honor Roll, which recognizes children's hospitals with very high scores in at least three specialties, five hospitals moved up one place and one hospital moved down two places.
The corrected rankings are now posted and will be reflected in the Best Hospitals 2013 guidebook that is scheduled to arrive on newsstands in late August.
A PDF file that shows original and corrected rankings for affected hospitals by specialty is available for viewing and download.
Having directed the Best Hospitals and Best Children's Hospitals rankings from their beginnings (1990 and 2007 respectively), I wish I was writing today to celebrate the release of a new database for health consumers, or to laud a hospital that posts actual retail prices for common surgeries—not to tell you about mistakes that affected our children's hospitals rankings. Such mistakes are plainly unacceptable. Along with my U.S. News editors, I apologize to the hospitals affected and to the consumers who respect our work. We will be taking steps we believe necessary to address such errors in the future.
I hope readers agree we have applied a standard of openness and transparency to addressing these errors that's no lower than the bar we set for the hospitals that are the focus of these rankings. If you need more information, do not hesitate to contact me directly at email@example.com or, if you have questions of a detailed or technical nature, including those related to programming, email our contractor, RTI International, at firstname.lastname@example.org.