Last week, U.S. News released rankings of the top children’s hospitals in the United States. The Shands Hospital for Children at UF was ranked in the top 50 in seven of nine specialties evaluated. These results represent a marked improvement: In 2009 we were not listed by U.S. News in any specialty; in 2010, we were listed in one, and in 2011 six.
Clearly, steady progress is evident in the number of specialties for which we are recognized. Equally encouraging, however, is our ranking among the 14 children’s hospitals in Florida: We have the highest standing in three specialties — Cardiology and Heart Surgery, Diabetes and Endocrinology, and Gastroenterology — and the second-highest in Neonatology, and Nephrology.
As our pediatricians often say, “children aren’t small adults.” Those of you who are parents will no doubt endorse that statement from the standpoint of general behavior and development. From a medical standpoint as well, children are indeed quite different. They are more vulnerable to certain diseases than adults, and respond differently to treatment. Healing requires not only specialized technical skills adapted to tiny anatomical structures and small volumes of distribution, but also a sophisticated understanding of psychological development, family dynamics and family communication.
U.S. News uses a sophisticated methodology to assess three components of quality — patient outcomes (e.g., infection rates, survival from cancer, efficacy of treatment of chronic diseases such as asthma), process of care (which includes a reputation measure based on a survey of specialists), and a mix of 38 measures of care such as surgical volume, nurse-patient ratio and condition-specific clinics and programs. We can all be very proud of our pediatric faculty and children’s hospital administrators and staff for being recognized for their excellence by specialists in the field as well as by objective measures of patient care processes and outcomes.