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Invited Commentary
July 31, 2019

The Relevance of Hospital Rankings in the Laparoscopic Era

Author Affiliations
  • 1Bariatric, Metabolic, and Endocrine Center, Swedish Hospital Seattle, Seattle, Washington
JAMA Surg. 2019;154(9):867. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2019.2328

The annual ranking of US hospitals has become a much anticipated and touted event. Although a variety of organizations generate and publish these rankings, the US News & World Report and Healthgrades systems are perhaps the most recognized and commonly cited. Although, one presumes, the original intention of these efforts was to inform patients on the most appropriate regional or national health care facility that would address their specific needs, the main benefactors of these rankings appear to be the marketing administrators within the institutions that occupy an elevated position on the list. The annual publication of hospital rankings is invariably followed by robust, energetic, and pervasive advertising by hospitals that have been endowed a higher ranking in 1 or more specialties, resulting in increased financial disbursement that, in turn, will need to be recouped through higher cost of health care delivery. Such expenditures may well be justified, if these rankings actually reflect an overall improved experience for patients. However, such spending not only may be wasteful but also can be detrimental if improperly interpreted by patients.

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