This is not the first time Duke Children’s Hospital has accomplished a top 50 rank in each of its 10 specialties by U.S. News and World Report.

Last year, the Hospital also received top 50 recognition in its 10 specialties. Although the rankings fluctuate from year to year, the 2017-18 report revealed the balanced nature of Duke’s program in all ten specialties. 

“We strive to deliver excellent care and be at the forefront of research," said Ann Reed, M.D., chair of the Duke Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief of Duke Children’s. "The acknowledgement of that care that we work to deliver to our patients and community is the US News ranking."

Pulmonology—involving the respiratory tract—and neonatology—care of newborns—are Duke's highest ranked areas, coming in at No. 28 nationally. Following those two, nephrology—involving kidneys—is ranked No. 30; cancer is ranked No. 31, neurology and neurosurgery are No. 33, diabetes and endocrinology are No. 35, cardiology and heart surgery are No. 38 and gastroenterology and GI surgery are ranked at No. 41. For urology, Duke Children's Hospital came in at No. 44 and for orthopedics, it was ranked at No. 49.

Rankings for children’s hospitals are calculated differently than those for adult care. 

First, physicians in each specialty across the nation are surveyed and asked to subjectively rank each hospital’s program. The second part of the investigation is three-pronged, taking into account outcomes of treatment, the volume and size of the program and the structures and processes in place to ensure quality care. Lastly, a team of representatives from each of Duke Children’s Hospital’s specialties comes together to analyze questions given by U.S. News and World Report.

“The key point that we’re most proud of is that we’re consistently ranked in each of the ten specialties most years,” said Ira Cheifetz, chief of the division of pediatric critical care medicine at Duke Children’s Hospital.

Reed noted that she was surprised at how high the pulmonology ranking is. Duke Children's Hospital received an "excellent" rating in such subcategories as success with asthma patients, nurse staffing and commitment to best practices.

“We have been working hard to build that department, so the ranking was likely explained by the new faculty and outstanding researchers that have recently joined us," she explained.

On a different note, Reed noted that she was surprised by the ranking of the neonatology program—which was lower than expected—as Duke is nationally regarded as a leader in that specialty.

“The consideration of new questions posed to our team likely explains why neonatology wasn’t ranked as high as it has been in previous years," she said. "Additionally, among the middle of the pack in each specialty, the difference in rank is often only a small point margin.”

The hospital's neonatology program and solid organ transplants—specifically liver, small bowel, kidney, and heart procedures—are also nationally renowned. 

Rankings such as these are not the only way that Duke Children's Hospital differs from its peers. Some of the programs that attract patients nationally and internationally include the stem cell bone marrow transplants and epilepsy treatments.

“We are also one of only two centers in the world—with the other being in the United Kingdom—that conducts thymus transplants to treat children born with DiGeorge syndrome, a severe immunodeficiency,” Cheifitz explained.