U.S. News & World Report has released its Best Hospitals for Maternity Care rankings for 2022. The rankings are intended to assist expectant mothers in making informed decisions about maternal health care for uncomplicated pregnancies.
The ratings assess eight aspects of care. Three categories are new – rates of episiotomy; transparency for racial and ethnic disparities; and adherence to federal guidelines for birthing friendly practices, which include efforts by staff to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality.
Of the 649 hospitals reviewed, 297 received a mark of “high performing.” Hospitals included in the high-performing category were Thomas Hospital, Fairhope, Ala.; Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center; and Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago. Over 300 hospitals received a ranking of “not high performing.”
Min Hee Seo, a senior health data analyst at U.S. News & World Report, said the new additions to the ranking system will help parents make more informed decisions about their maternal care. The information on racial and ethnic disparities could help patients make decisions about the equity of their care, Dr. Seo also said.
“By validating hospitals solely on their objective data and performance, we are providing more information to patients or families who are in need,” she said.
To produce the maternity care rankings – which first appeared in 2021 – the magazine focused on data from 2020 for each hospital it evaluated. The data were derived from government sources and through surveys of hospitals that provide maternity care.
In addition to the three new measures, the five indicators in the rankings are rates of cesarean delivery in lower-risk pregnancies, newborn complications, exclusive breast milk feeding, early elective delivery, and options for vaginal birth after cesarean delivery.
The U.S. News & World Report rankings for education have come under scrutiny recently, and some schools are no longer participating in the popular feature. However, Dr. Seo said the controversy does not affect the hospital rankings. She said expectant mothers and doctors frequently use the data in hospital rankings to improve quality of care and to have conversations about care with patients.
“Providers can use these rankings to make references and transfer patients to where they will receive the best care,” she said.
A version of this article first appeared on Medscape.com.