Top cities for hospital care not where you think

A new list from HealthGrades indicates that the best quality hospital care occurs at some smaller cities that beat out major cities, with Baltimore ranking as number one in the nation. The other cities that round out the top 10 are Phoenix-Prescott, Ariz.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Richmond, Va.; Cincinnati, Ohio; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; St. Louis, Mo.; Hartford-New Haven, Conn.; and Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo, Mich.; respectively.

The "America's Top Cities for Hospital Care" list is HealthGrades' second annual independent list aimed at helping consumers choose a hospital or physician. HealthGrades looked at nearly 5,000 hospitals in 26 procedures and diagnoses and measured patient death and complication rates.

Researchers found that these cities have the highest concentration of top hospitals, and in some cases, almost half of certain cities' hospitals provided this high level of care, including Baltimore (47 pecent), Phoenix-Prescott (44 percent), Cedar Rapids (43 percent), and Richmond (43 percent), according to the report.

Patients treated at HealthGrades "Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence" recognition have 30 percent lower chance of dying and 1.86 percent lower complication rates after adjusting for patient severity of illness, according to the report.

"If all hospitals performed at the same level as Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence, 165,704 Medicare lives could have been saved in just three years and 6,800 in-hospital complications avoided," the press release stated.

Unlike some hospital best-of lists, no hospital can opt-in or opt-out of being evaluated, and no hospital pays to be evaluated, HealthGrades said.

To learn more:
- here's the press release (.pdf)
- check out the study (.pdf)
- see the list