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US News ranks the best children's hospitals for 2017-18

Source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

The annual U.S. News Best Children's Hospitals rankings, now in their 11th year, offer guidance to parents seeking the best place for their very sick child. The top 50 medical centers are ranked in 10 specialties, including pediatric cardiology & heart surgery, pediatric diabetes & endocrinology, and pediatric orthopedics.

In the 2017-18 rankings, 82 hospitals ranked among the top 50 in at least one specialty. Ten of those hospitals earned a place on the Best Children's Hospitals 2017-18 Honor Roll by racking up points for being highly ranked in many specialties.

1. Boston Children's Hospital

2. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

3. Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

4. Texas Children's Hospital, Houston

5. Johns Hopkins Children's Center, Baltimore

6. Children's Hospital Los Angeles

7. Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago

7. Nationwide Children's Hospital

9. Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

10. Children's National Medical Center, Washington, D.C.

How U.S. News produced the rankings

The 2017-18 rankings were created from data collected through a clinical survey sent to nearly 200 hospitals and a reputational survey sent to about 11,000 doctors who are pediatric specialists. RTI International, a North Carolina-based research and consulting firm that also generates the Best Hospitals rankings, administered both surveys and analyzed the results.

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Some of the kinds of data collected and analyzed included survival rates for children who underwent surgery for serious congenital heart defects, infection rates in neonatal intensive care units, complications from kidney biopsies and other care outcomes. Data about the adequacy of each hospital's nurse staffing and infection-prevention programs were among many other factors also considered.

Whether and how high a hospital was ranked depended on how well it performed in three broad respects: clinical outcomes, such as maximizing cancer survival and minimizing rates of various infections; efficient coordination of care as demonstrated, for example, by complying with accepted "best practices"; and providing sufficient care-related resources such as nursing staff and outpatient programs tailored to particular conditions. Each of these three major areas determined up to one-third of a hospital's score.

Results from the survey of pediatric specialists contributed 8.5 percent to 15 percent of a hospital's score, depending on specialty. Doctors were asked to name up to 10 hospitals they consider best in their specialty for children with serious or difficult medical problems. More than 3,000 physicians responded this year. Their responses were combined with those from similar surveys conducted in 2015 and 2016.

How U.S. News analyzed the data and put it together is fully described in the Best Children's Hospitals Methodology Report, available as a downloadable PDF.