Northwestern Memorial Hospital is rated in 10 clinical specialties—six of which make it the highest ranked in Illinois—as part of U.S. News & World Report’s 2008 America’s Best Hospitals issue. This year, editorial staff for the authoritative and influential guide evaluated 5,453 medical centers nationwide, and 170 were chosen and ranked according to the Top 50 programs in 16 clinical areas.
The 16 specialties include cancer; gastroenterology; ear, nose, and throat; endocrinology; geriatric care; gynecology; heart and heart surgery; kidney disease; neurology and neurosurgery; ophthalmology; orthopaedics; psychiatry; rehabilitation; respiratory disorders; rheumatology; and urology. Northwestern Memorial is rated in the following 10 specialties: cancer (31), geriatrics (17), gynecology (18), heart (19), endocrinology (18), kidney disease (46), neuro (11), orthopaedics (21), rheumatology (13) and urology (20). Rankings in the areas of geriatrics, gynecology, heart, neurosciences, rheumatology, and urology are the highest achieved by an Illinois hospital as rated by the U.S. News' guide.
In 12 of the 16 specialties, the rankings weigh three elements equally: reputation, death rate and a set of care-related factors such as nursing and patient services. In these 12 specialties, hospitals have to pass through several gates to be ranked and considered a “Best Hospital”:
1. The first gate determines whether a hospital is eligible to be ranked at all by requiring that any of three conditions be met--to be a teaching hospital, to be affiliated with a teaching hospital, or to have at least six important medical technologies from a defined list of 13.
2. The second gate determines whether a hospital is eligible to be ranked in a particular specialty. To be eligible, the hospital had to either have at least a specified volume in certain procedures and conditions over three years, or it had to have been nominated in our yearly specialist survey.
3. The third gate determines whether a hospital does well enough to be ranked, based on its reputation, death rate and factors like nurse staffing and technology.
In the four other specialties--ophthalmology, psychiatry, rehabilitation and rheumatology--ranking is based solely on reputation, which is derived from the three most recent physician surveys.