The Best Children's Hospitals rankings, like the Best Hospitals rankings of adult centers, factor in specialists' opinions concerning the best sources of care for the sickest patients. The reputational survey that will supply these doctors' recommendations for the 2013-14 pediatric rankings, which are scheduled to appear in mid-June, has now closed. We're delighted — and grateful — to report that more than 52 percent of the surveyed physicians responded. This is at a time when doctors are busier than ever and might impatiently brush off efforts to get their views, yet the response rate was within less than two percentage points of the previous year's survey.
What we ask these pediatric specialists to do — 150 of them in each of the 10 ranked children's specialties, from Cancer to Urology — is this: leaving location and cost aside, to name up to 10 hospitals they feel provide the best care in their specialty for inpatients with particularly challenging conditions and procedures. To avoid biasing the results, the selection of physicians is geographically dispersed and the names are randomly selected. U.S. News contractor RTI International handles the survey distribution and tabulates the results. In all 10 children's specialties, reputation makes up 25 percent of a hospital's score.
Physicians in two specialties participated in the latest survey to a gratifying degree. Close to 70 percent of the surveyed pediatric cardiologists and heart surgeons sent nominations, a large jump from 52 percent last year. And nearly 72 percent of pediatric urologists weighed in, an all-time high and up from an already impressive 64 percent the year before. Neonatologists were the lowest-responding specialists, but in most surveys a 36 percent response rate would be considered extremely successful.
Our thanks to the hundreds of pediatric specialists who went to the trouble to send us their nominations.