The U.S. News & World Report has announced its Best Hospital rankings for 2008. Now in its 19th year, U.S. News judges hospitals, not on routine procedures, but in difficult cases across an entire specialty.

Out of 5,453 hospitals (Military & Veteran’s hospital data are unavailable), only 170 scored high enough to be included in the list. Of that 170, only 19 were able to make the U.S. News “Honor Roll”, which is the list of hospitals that ranked at or near the top in six or more specialties.

Factors involved in ranking the Best Hospital include:

Reputation. For 2008, a random sample of 200 physicians for each of the 16 specialties was drawn from the American Board of Medical Specialties database. They were asked to list five hospitals they consider among the best in their specialty for difficult cases, without taking into account cost or location.

Mortality index. This ratio defines the ability to keep patients alive. It compares the number of Medicare inpatients with certain conditions who died within 30 days of admission in 2004, 2005, and 2006 with the number of deaths that would have been expected after adjusting for severity. An index number below 1.00 means the hospital did better than expected; a number above 1.00 means the hospital did worse than expected.

Other care-related factors. This information came from various sources, most prominently the American Hospital Association’s 2006 survey of member and nonmember hospitals. It includes technology, volume, nurse staffing, and other patient-related information.

For the full list of ranked hospitals, a more detailed description of the ranking process, as well as a more in-depth look at each hospital’s scores (e.g., mortality index, ratio of nurses to patients and patient services) click here.

Top Ten Best Hospital for Cancer:

1. University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston TX
2. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
3. Johns Hsopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD
4. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
5. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
6. University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA
7. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
8. University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, San Francisco, CA
9. Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford, CA
10. Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA