Health & Medicine

U.S. News magazine ranks UCD Medical Center the No. 1 hospital in Sacramento

UC Davis Medical Center is ranked the sixth-best hospital in the state of California by U.S. News & World Report.
UC Davis Medical Center is ranked the sixth-best hospital in the state of California by U.S. News & World Report. rpench@sacbee.com

UC Davis Medical Center maintained its position as Sacramento’s best hospital, according to the 2019-2020 rankings released Tuesday by U.S. News & World Report, despite big changes in how the magazine’s editors evaluated hospital performance.

The teaching hospital was the only local institution among the top 10 California medical centers.

“This is great news for our patients and for the communities we serve,” said David Lubarsky, the chief executive officer of UC Davis Health. “It reflects our many ongoing partnerships with the community to deliver highly specialized, expert, and compassionate patient care. We partner with patients in order to reach the best solutions for each of their individual health needs.”

The magazine’s editors also recognized Sacramento’s Sutter Medical Center as one of only 57 hospitals in the nation to receive a “high performing” score in each of nine surgical procedures and chronic conditions. UC Davis received a high-performing mark in seven categories — abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, heart bypass surgery, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery — and an average mark in the remaining two — hip replacement surgery and aortic valve surgery.

Barely 1 percent of hospitals accomplished that feat, according to the magazine, and the list included Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles; Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto; and John Muir Health’s Concord Medical Center.

Magazine editors changed up the methodology for this year’s best hospitals rankings in several ways. They incorporated scores for patient experience from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and added measures associated with how often patients go home, rather than into institutional care, after getting hospital procedures.

They also adopted an enhanced risk-adjustment model to ensure that hospitals that treat sicker patients are not penalized for worse patient outcomes, and after persuasive arguments from industry experts, editors removed a patient safety score described as lacking validity or reliability. That patient safety score had been weighted at 5 percent in assessing medical teams’ performance in their specialties.

Because of these and other changes, U.S. News editors cautioned against making comparisons with rankings for prior years.

Among local hospitals, UCD Medical Center ranked on top for Sacramento and in sixth place among the 52 California hospitals on the list.

Sutter Medical Center Sacramento came in second in the local market, 18th in the state; Sutter Roseville Medical Center, third in the region, 28th in the state; Sacramento’s Mercy General Hospital, fourth locally, 33rd in the state; Kaiser Permanente’s Sacramento Medical Center on Morse Avenue, fifth locally, 37th statewide; Kaiser’s South Sacramento Medical Center, sixth in the capital region, 45th statewide; and Carmichael’s Mercy San Juan Medical Center, seventh locally and 52nd statewide.

U.S. News evaluated more than 4,500 hospitals around the United States, and only 165 received a ranking for how they managed complex care in each of 16 specialties. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., earned the top spot on the list.

The five top-ranking California hospitals also placed among the top 20 in the nation: UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles was No. 6; UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, No. 7; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A., No. 8; Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, No. 12; and Los Angeles’ Keck Hospital of USC, No. 16.

UCD Medical Center was the only Sacramento-area hospital to be ranked nationally for its specialty care. It landed a position in 10 of 16 possible specialty practices, down from 11 under last year’s methodology.

“’Best Hospitals’ is one of several metrics we use to evaluate the quality of our work and how it compares to others throughout the country,” said Brad Simmons, interim CEO of UC Davis Medical Center. “It’s a reflection of a dedicated team that works each and every day to advance health for all.”

Among UCD medical teams, the ear, nose and throat department received the highest ranking. It ranked No. 12 in the country.

The teaching hospital came in at 16 in the nation for gynecology, 17 for cardiology and heart surgery, 18 for geriatrics, 26 for nephrology, 28 for cancer treatment, 30 for neurology and neurosurgery, 37 for orthopedics and 39 for both urology and pulmonology and lung surgery.

Gary Leiserowitz, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said his team has some of the most highly skilled physicians in the nation. That includes specialists in handling high-risk pregnancies as well as surgeons, oncologists and entire care teams focused on treatment of cancers and other conditions of the reproductive tract, he said.

“We take a team approach, one that’s anchored by the most current, evidence-based medicine and always centered on patients as individuals,” Leiserowitz said.

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Cathie Anderson covers health care for The Bee. Growing up, her blue-collar parents paid out of pocket for care. She joined The Bee in 2002, with roles including business columnist and features editor. She previously worked at papers including the Dallas Morning News, Detroit News and Austin American-Statesman.
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