U.S. News Releases List of Top Cancer Hospitals

Nick Mulcahy

July 15, 2014

The Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center in New York City is the top-ranked cancer hospital in the United States for 2014/15, according to the annual rankings from U.S. News & World Report.

MSK is the first-place finisher in cancer care after 7 straight years of being runner-up to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

However, it is not exactly a big drop for M.D. Anderson. MSK scored 100 out of a possible 100, and M.D. Anderson scored 99.9.

Still, first place is first place for MSK.

"We are delighted and honored to once again be a top hospital for cancer," said MSK president and CEO Craig Thompson, MD, in a press statement.

MSK has held either the first or second spot every year since the first list was issued 25 years ago.

"They ended up at number 1 by the thinnest of margins," Avery Comarow, the health rankings editor at U.S. News & World Report, told Medscape Medical News in an interview.

But at least it was a fair fight this year.

The top ranking assigned to M.D. Anderson in 2013 was aided by mortality/survival data that were, in the words of Comarow, "massively" in error," as reported last year by Medscape Medical News. The data mix-up improved the Texas center's score over a number of years.

"This is the first year that the survival data have been free of the errors of the past," said Comarow.

For their part, M.D. Anderson was sporting in relinquishing the top spot.

"We...congratulate Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on their No. 1 ranking this year," reads a statement from the Texas center.

The Top 20 Cancer Hospitals

1 Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center, New York City
2 University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
3 Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
4 Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center, Boston
5 Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland
6 University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle
7 Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
8 UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco
9 UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles
10 Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford, California
11 Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania–Penn Presbyterian, Philadelphia
12 City of Hope, Los Angeles
13 Cleveland Clinic
14 New York–Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, New York City
15 University of Colorado Hospital, Denver
16 Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Florida
17 Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago
18 Seidman Cancer Center at UH Case Medical, Cleveland
19 Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia
20 Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston–Salem, North Carolina

 

U.S. News & World Report made multiple changes to their Best Hospitals rankings methodology this year, including an increase in the importance of patient safety and a decrease in the influence of reputation.

Patient safety, with 2 new measures, now accounts for 10% of each hospital's overall score, which is twice as much as in the past. Hospital reputation, which is determined through a national survey of medical specialists, diminished in importance by 5% on the scorecard.

However, reputation still factors heavily in the rankings; the weight of this component was reduced from a hefty 32.5% to a still weighty 27.5%.

Notably, M.D. Anderson's reputation did not take much of a hit in the past year among oncologists, despite the embarrassing and recurring data error in their previous rankings and a series of controversies, which included a multitude of problems involving the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas that started in 2012 and continued into 2013.

M.D. Anderson's reputation score dropped only slightly, from 67.7% in 2013 to 67.5% in 2014. It is still higher than MSK's reputation score, which increased slightly, from 62.0% in 2013 to 64.7% in 2014.

Not everyone is impressed by the annual rankings.

 
It's much pomp and circumstance.
 

"It's much pomp and circumstance and ends up being more about marketing than patient care," Ted Okun, executive director of the Community Oncology Alliance in Washington, DC, told Medscape Medical News.

In fact, the marketing power of the rankings can be found when looking at any American metropolitan area with a competitive hospital market. The rankings are touted and the U.S. News & World Report emblem can be found online and in print advertising, billboards, and various other ad venues.

A visit to the M.D. Anderson Web site reveals that they prominently display the U.S. News & World Report emblem for the top ranking in 2013.

Starting July 15, those bragging rights belong to MSK. It would not be a surprise to see the emblem on the MSK Web site sometime soon.

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