If you or a loved one experiences an injury or illness requiring medical attention, the quality of the hospital you select can make a big difference. After all, the level of care and overall outcomes you get can vary vastly by healthcare institution. For many people, proximity—that is, how close a hospital is to them—is the main and sometimes only factor considered.
Of course, in true life-threatening situations, proximity is paramount. But beyond emergent necessity and simple convenience, what other factors should you consider when deciding the best hospitals for your care—including surgery, oncology, and other specialty services?
The following ten facilities are consistently listed among the best hospitals in the United States. These metrics are often based on performance and outcome measures like reputation, patient safety, and high-performing physicians. Keep reading to learn more about what makes these top-notch institutions stand out.
Rochester, Minnesota (with satellite facilities in Florida and Arizona)
The Mayo Clinic is ranked #1 overall by U.S. News World & Report for best hospitals in the United States for 2018-2019. Their team includes over 4,700 doctors, specialists, and researchers from around the world. It's also recognized as first in at least six specialties, including nephrology, gynecology, neurology/neurosurgery, gastroenterology, and endocrinology. Its ER average wait time clocks in at 27 minutes.
Both the heart and urology programs at the Cleveland Clinic are currently ranked number 1 in the nation—and the heart program specifically has held the top spot since 1995. The institution is also associated with 3 of the top 5 Cleveland-area hospitals (South Pointe, Fairview, and Hillcrest). Its ER has a reported average wait time of just 9 minutes.
This Maryland-based teaching hospital attracts some of the best minds in medicine. It is a major hub for the next generation of clinicians and researchers, thanks to its ties with the prestigious John Hopkins University School of Medicine. This hospital receives over 3 million patients annually, and its ER has a current average wait time of 31 minutes.
This Philly-based academic medical center is the number one hospital in the region and state. It's also home to some of the top doctors in the nation and world. Their clinical programs and services include orthopedics, pain management, oncology, rheumatology, geriatrics, pulmonology, women's health, neurology, sports rehabilitation, neonatal intensive care, and ear, nose, and throat. The hospital is proudly affiliated with America's first medical school (the University of Pennsylvania). Average ER wait time is around 38 minutes.
The city of Boston has long been recognized as one of the top spots in the world for high-quality medical care, and MGH leads the way. It's ranked number 4 in the nation according to U.S. News World & Report. Many recognize it for excellence in specialities that include stroke care, cardiothoracic surgery, nursing, and patient safety. Its physicians and researchers are routinely recognized for their outstanding performance within their fields, and the hospital is also known as an area leader in community service. Its average ER wait time is approximately 21 minutes.
New York, New York
Recognized as one of the leading academic medicine institutions, New York-Presbyterian is the number one hospital in the greater metropolitan area and serves over 2 million patients annually. Between their seven main New York City campuses, the institution is affiliated with more than 6,500 physicians. The institution is involved in on-going clinical trials and innovative research. It has been included in the nation's top 5 for four specialties, including cardiology and heart surgery, neurology/neurosurgery, rheumatology, and psychiatry.
San Francisco, California
For the best healthcare in the San Francisco Bay area, the UCSF Medical Center is the leading choice for millions of people ever year. The institution is consistently ranked as one of the nation's leaders in clinical care and educational programs. This hospital also happens to be home to five Nobel laureates whose innovations and research in cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, aging, and stem cells have contributed to major advances in medicine and healthcare.
Right in the heart of downtown Chicago, this leading academic medicine center is affiliated with the laudable Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The hospital falls in the top 10 in the nation for cardiology, heart surgery, geriatrics, neurology, and neurosurgery. Many recognize it for its high-quality nursing as well. In fact, Northwestern is a recipient of the Magnet Recognition Program from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which is considered the "gold standard" for nursing excellence.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The collection of campuses under the University of Michigan Hospital System comprises one of the largest healthcare complexes in the world. People recognize it for providing both high-quality adult and pediatric care. Associated with the prestigious U of M, this hospital happens to have one of the country's largest biomedical research communities and has contributed to groundbreaking innovations in medicine. Its average ER wait time is currently listed as 36 minutes.
VUMC is one of the biggest and most respected medical centers in the Southeast, and it sees over 2 million patients every year. Considered a mid-South hub of postgraduate medical study, the hospital's biomedical research program is one of the nation’s top 10 recipients of National Institutes of Health Peer Review funding. They have over 100 adult and pediatric specialties, and Vanderbilt is home to more than 1,000 residents and fellows, along with a roster of world-renown physicians. They are also the only Level 1 trauma center in Tennessee and has a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Care Center for adults and children.