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Using the ‘Top Hospitals’ Search Function

Snapshot: This article summarizes how to use the ‘Top Hospitals’ search function, including a description of what each variable means and data sources.

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Overview Variable 1: Location Variable 2: Hospital Type Variable 3: Major Teaching Hospital Variable 4: Nursing Magnet Hospital Variable 5: Trauma Center Variable 6: Religious Affiliation Variable 7: Top Performer Variable 8: Patient Satisfaction
 

Overview

  • A total of 167 hospitals are included in this dataset. These are the top hospitals as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
  • All hospitals in this dataset are fully accredited by the Joint Commission, which is a quasi-governmental agency that ensures hospitals meet minimum standards of safety, accountability, and financial stability.
  • There are over 5,000 hospitals in the United States. The hospitals profiled in this website are therefore an elite group of institutions.

Variable 1: Location

  • This variable allows you to select the state you interested in searching for programs in.
    • You can select one state at a time, and results will be displayed in alphabetical order. All results will be displayed on the map.

Variable 2: Hospital Type

  • This variable allows you to select the type of hospital you are interested in searching for.
  • The source for this data is a combination of Medicare data, and information provided by hospital websites.
  • Below is a brief description of what each hospital type means. Different hospital types serve different patient populations. No type of hospital is ‘better’ than another; your goal should be to attempt to match your skills and interests to the type of hospital. Keep in mind that even this categorization is relatively crude; there are often a wide range of options and work environments available within a single type of hospital.
    • Acute Care Hospital. An acute care hospital is one that serves adult patients with a wide range of medical problems. Depending on its size and resources, it may house medical, surgical, and intensive care units in a variety of specialty areas. Acute care hospitals are what most people think of when they think of “a hospital.”
    • Specialty Hospital. A specialty hospital is one that serves a specific patient population. Specialty hospitals can take many forms, but some of the most common are Rehabilitation Hospitals, which help patients with a variety of injuries regain strength and function; Oncology Centers, which treat patients with cancer; and Psychiatric Hospitals and Institutes, which treat patients with mental health problems.
    • Pediatric Hospital. A pediatric hospital is one that serves children with a wide range of medical problems. As with acute care hospitals, a pediatric hospital may house a variety of medical, surgical, and intensive care units, depending on its size and resources.

Variable 3: Major Teaching Hospital

  • This variable allows you to select whether a hospital is classified as a major teaching hospital or not.
  • Major teaching hospitals are often associated with an academic medical center, or are a primary teaching site for one or more medical schools.
  • Major teaching hospitals tend to be dynamic, fast-paced work environments that are on the cutting edge of medical care. While not for everybody, they can be a valuable place to learn and gain experience.
  • The source for this data is the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). The AAMC is a non-profit body that represents all 141 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools.
  • Select “Yes” to show results only for major teaching hospitals; select “No” to show results only for institutions that are not major teaching hospitals.

Variable 4: Nursing Magnet Hospital

  • This variable allows you to select whether a hospital is classified as a nursing Magnet hospital or not.
  • Nursing Magnet hospitals have earned recognition from the Magnet Recognition Program, developed by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
  • A total of only about 400 U.S. hospitals have earned this designation. Magnet hospitals are top performers for quality nursing patient care, nursing education, and professional innovation. Magnet hospitals are often highly desirable places for nurses to work, and not surprisingly, tend to have higher rates of job retention and career satisfaction.
  • Select “Yes” to show results only for Magnet hospitals; select “No” to show results only for hospitals that have not earned Magnet designation.

Variable 5: Trauma Center

  • This variable allows you to select whether a hospital is classified as major trauma center or not.
  • For the purposes of this website, major trauma centers include Level I and Level II trauma centers only, in addition to designated Pediatric trauma centers.
    • A Level I trauma center provides the highest level of medical and surgical care to patients, with a full range of specialists and equipment available 24 hours a day. Level I trauma centers must maintain an ongoing program of research, or a surgical residency program.
    • A Level II trauma center works in collaboration with a Level I trauma center. It can provide many of the same services as a Level I trauma center, although in a limited number of cases may need to transfer patients to a Level I facility. It must also offer a full range of specialists and equipment 24 hours a day. It is not required to maintain an ongoing program of research or a surgical residency program.
    • A designated Pediatric trauma center may also be designated as Level I or Level II. It’s important to note that if a hospital provides care to both adult and pediatric patients, the level of trauma care for each of these patient populations may not be the same (i.e. a hospital that is a Level I trauma center for adults may offer only Level II services for children).
    • For hospitals that qualify as a major trauma center, the Level is shown, and in addition, whether the hospital is a Pediatric Trauma center, and whether it offers a Burn treatment specialty.
      • Note: for the purposes of this website, offering a Burn treatment center does not necessarily qualify a hospital as a major trauma center; this is a specialty group of services that a particular hospital may or may not offer.
  • The source for this data is the American Trauma Society (ATS). ATS is a professional and advocacy body for the U.S. trauma system.
  • Select “Yes” to show results only for major trauma centers, and “No” to show results only for hospitals that are not major trauma centers.

Variable 6: Religious Affiliation

  • This variable allows you to select whether a hospital is affiliated with a particular religious denomination or not.
  • While many hospitals in the U.S. have a wide range of religious affiliations, a disproportionate number of hospitals are affiliated with the Catholic church. Other common religious affiliation include hospitals with Protestant or Jewish religious affiliations.
  • Working at a hospital with a religious affiliation may be a good fit for individuals with similar religious values and beliefs. While many religiously-affiliated hospitals offer the same range of basic services as hospitals without a religious affiliation, in some cases both the culture of the hospital, and in some cases the type of services, may differ from hospitals with no religious affiliation.
  • The source for this data is the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
  • Select “Yes” to show results only for hospitals with a religious affiliation, and “No” to show results only for hospitals with no religious affiliation.

Variable 7: Top Performer

  • This variable allows you select whether a hospital has been designated as achieving excellence and superior clinical outcomes by the Joint Commission, the same quasi-governmental agency that accredits hospitals.
  • Top performers must qualify in at least one of the following clinical areas to be included: heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, children’s asthma, venous thromboembolism, stroke, hospital based inpatient psychiatric services, or immunizations.
  • Select “Yes” to show results only for hospitals that are top performers, and “No” to show results only for hospitals that are not top performers.

Variable 8: Patient Satisfaction

  • This variable allows you to select whether a hospital is categorized as having High, Average, or Low patient satisfaction.
  • The source for this data is the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and in particular the question in the HCAHPS hospital survey that asks “would you definitely recommend this hospital to others.” (HCAHPS stands for ‘hospital consumer assessment of healthcare providers and systems’).
  • The average HCAHPS satisfaction score for U.S. hospitals nationally is about 70%. For the purposes of this website, a “high” patient satisfaction score is 78% or above, an “average” score is between 66% and 77%, and a “low” score is less than 66%.
  • While not a guarantee, hospitals with high satisfaction scores tend to better managed than those with lower scores, and are often more desirable places for nurses and other hospital employees to work.