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Other companies also release hospital rankings, but the annual U.S. News & World Report list is arguably the most visible and the results are often cited by hospitals in marketing campaigns to highlight their strengths.

"For almost three decades, we've strived to make hospital quality more transparent to healthcare consumers nationwide", said Ben Harder, managing editor and chief of health analysis at U.S. News. The U-M Medical School also was 9th in the nation for research-based medical schools in its “Best Graduate Schools” ranking.

USNWR ranks hospitals on a number of factors including patient safety, clinical resources, quality of care, family centeredness and staff professionalism. Also, for the first time this year, U.S. News risk-adjusted for socioeconomic status, adjusted volume to improve comparability among hospitals and used a broader definition of transfer cases to ensure hospitals are rewarded for accepting high-risk patients.

Nationally, the list was topped by the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins. Of the 4,500 hospitals analyzed by U.S. News, 152 were recognized nationally and 535 were singled out regionally.

"We view the facility as a net positive for the strength of our programs", he said.

Michigan Medicine, which includes all of the hospitals within the University of Michigan's health system, was ranked No. 6, ascending from No. 18 in 2016-17. Under children's specialties, Penn State Children's Hospital ranked 39 for pediatric cardiology and heart surgery, 46 for pediatric orthopedics, 46 for neonatology and 50 for pediatric cancer.

Nationally, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester is the top ranked hospital for the second year in a row. Only 6 percent of USA hospitals receive this coveted honor, given to organizations that meet rigorous standards for quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice. The hospital was ranked fifth best for cardiology, second for diabetes and endocrinology, fifth for gastroenterology, third for neurology, second for psychiatry, and fourth for pulmonology.

This year, the publication found UT Medical Center to be the second-best hospital in the entire state of Tennessee.

"A change in performance over time doesn't necessarily reflect a change in a hospital's quality of care", he said.

He said the project could help the hospital move up in the rankings next year.

The magazine also praised UAB for high performance in seven adult procedures/conditions: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart bypass surgery, heart failure, abdominal aortic aneurysm fix, aortic valve surgery, colon cancer surgery and lung cancer surgery.