List of top hospitals includes some surprises

The Leapfrog Group has announced its 2009 list of top hospitals, a group that includes 34 urban facilities, eight children's hospitals and, in a new category this year, three rural hospitals. The ratings are an interesting contrast from those provided by public policy organizations, the federal government or other quality groups, as they're backed by a group composed of large employers.

Winners included predictable leaders like the Mayo Clinic, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as a varied list of academic medical centers, a few regional medical systems and, in a surprise twist, three rural hospitals -- including two in Maine and one in Cedartown, Ga. 

The facilities chosen stood out not only for quality of care, but for the first time, also had to rank at the top of the list for their efficiency. Leapfrog also added a "Top Rural Hospitals" category to its ratings. Other factors taken into account by Leapfrog included the usual suspects: mortality rates for common procedures, infection rates and safety practices.

Top urban hospitals had to meet some particularly stringent criteria, including implementing computer physician order entry systems and passing Leapfrog's test of their system; meeting performance standards for complex high-risk procedures such as heart bypass surgery; having a fully staffed ICU; and meeting efficiency standards.

To see the list of winners:
- read this Leapfrog press release

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