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Duke University Hospital falls out of nation's top 20 hospitals

Duke University Hospital did not make the cut for the U.S. News & World Report’s 2019-2020 Honor Roll.

The Best Hospitals Honor Roll evaluates a hospital’s performance in medical procedures and specialties, according to the Tuesday news release that announced the rankings. This year’s Honor Roll included the best 21 hospitals from more than 4,500 facilities—but it did not include Duke University Hospital.

Last year, the hospital sat at 19th, barely making the Honor Roll. It was deemed the 17th best in the country two years ago

“As a health system that prides itself in continuous improvement, we are not satisfied with the results of the 2019-20 U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings, but we also know that they are not a comprehensive reflection of the outstanding care we provide to our patients every day,” wrote Thomas Owens, president of the Duke University Hospital, in an email to the Chronicle.

Hospitals accumulate points for being nationally ranked in 16 specialty areas proportionately to  the level of the rank, as described in an FAQ about the Honor Roll, and these points are used to determine the overall ranking. 

While the best 20 scores typically qualify, there were 21 hospitals to make the Honor Roll this year because two hospitals—Houston Methodist and Yale New Haven—tied for the last position.

The U.S. News ranking is just one of several measures of hospital performance, Owens explained. He pointed to the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ hospital ratings.

This spring, Duke Hospital received an “A” rating from Leapfrog and five stars from CMS’s Overall Hospital Star Ratings program.

“We approach these analyses as informative and we always welcome opportunities to improve,” Owens wrote of the U.S. News & World Report rankings. “First and foremost, we remain committed to our primary mission to assure that we deliver the highest quality care to our patients each day.”

He also noted that the rankings for this year were based on new methodology. The U.S. News & World Report news release described this years’ rankings, the 30th edition of the list, as “new and revised” and stated that U.S. news had “updated the methodology in its 12 data-driven specialty rankings.” The other four specialty areas are based solely on expert opinion, according to the FAQ.

Duke remains the best hospital in North Carolina and is nationally ranked in 10 adult specialties and nine pediatric specialties. It was ranked just outside the top 50 in the geriatrics adult specialty and nine procedures and conditions. 

Ophthalmology, rheumatology and nephrology are some of its highest ranking specialties—nationally seventh, 11th and 21st, respectively.

Coming on the heels of Duke, the University of North Carolina Hospitals, Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem round out the top five best hospitals in North Carolina.

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