America’s top hospitals, according to Leapfrog

By John Murphy, MDLinx
Published January 14, 2020

Key Takeaways

The Leapfrog Group—a national watchdog organization of employers and other purchasers focused on healthcare safety and quality—announced the recipients of its 2019 Top Hospitals award. 

To be considered a top hospital, facilities had to demonstrate excellent performance in many areas of hospital care, including preventing infections, reducing C-sections, using technology to reduce medication errors, and implementing surgical volume standards for safety. 

“Our Top Hospital award, one of the most prestigious in the US, recognizes hospitals for ensuring their facilities prioritize safety and quality in patient care,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. 

The organization gathers data on top hospitals through the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, which compares hospitals’ performance on national standards of patient safety, quality, efficiency, and management structures that prevent errors. 

The award is not given to a set number of hospitals. Rather, any teaching, general, rural, or children’s hospital that met Leapfrog’s methodology standards was eligible to be a top hospital. 


To appraise hospitals, Leapfrog first placed each candidate in one of four categories: Children’s, Rural, General, or Teaching. 

Any hospital considered for an award had to rank in the top 10% of all hospitals for its overall Value Score calculated in the Leapfrog Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program—a comprehensive hospital pay-for-performance program that focuses on national patient safety, quality, and resource use standards. 

Next, each hospital had to fully meet Leapfrog’s standard for Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE). To meet this standard, physicians must enter at least 85% of medication orders through a CPOE system. Hospitals also had to demonstrate that their inpatient CPOE system could alert physicians to at least 60% of common, serious prescribing errors.

Among other prerequisites, hospitals also must have fully staffed intensive care units, meet certain requirements in “never event” situations, and satisfy “the highest standards of excellence.” (Incidentally, “never events” are clearly identifiable, preventable, serious medical errors that suggest poor safety standards within a healthcare facility. Examples of “never events” include mismatched blood transfusions and surgery on the wrong body part.) 

Of the 120 top hospitals recognized in 2019, 55 are top teaching hospitals, 37 are top general hospitals, 18 are top rural hospitals, and 10 are top children’s hospitals. 

Here are just a couple of examples of facilities honored in each category:  

Top teaching hospitals

Loyola University Medical Center. Located just outside of Chicago, IL, Loyola University Medical Center is a quaternary care facility with 547 licensed beds, a level I trauma center, a nationally recognized burn center, a renowned transplant center, and a special 20-bed unit for patients undergoing stem cell transplant. The center provides top hospital care in all medical specialties, including orthopedics, nephrology, cardiology, oncology, ophthalmology, and surgery.

University of Virginia Medical Center. Part of the University of Virginia Health System, the University of Virginia Medical Center is an academic medical center that provides primary, specialty, and emergency care in Central Virginia through a network of clinics as well as the main hospital.  The medical center houses 612 inpatient beds and an outstanding level I trauma center.

Top general hospitals

Inova Alexandria Hospital. Founded in 1872 as the Alexandria Infirmary, Inova Alexandria Hospital in Alexandria, VA, was the first hospital to introduce a 24-hour-a-day emergency department staffed by physicians, which has since become the model for emergency care in the United States. Today, the not-for-profit, 318-bed community hospital offers a full range of healthcare services.

Henderson Hospital. Opened in October 2016, Henderson Hospital is a 166-bed facility that offers comprehensive medical and surgical services, including specialties in emergency care, childbirth services, and cardiac care in southern Nevada, not far from Las Vegas. The Leapfrog Group also awarded Henderson Hospital an “A” grade in its Fall 2019 Hospital Safety Grade rankings. 

Top rural hospitals

Cumberland Medical Center. From humble roots as a two-bed clinic opened by Dr. May Cravath Wharton in 1921, Cumberland Medical Center officially became a general hospital in 1950 in Crossville, TN. Today, it’s a full-service, acute care medical facility offering specialized services not typically found in a rural medical system, including advanced medical and surgical care, as well as a range of outpatient services. 

Polk Medical Center. Located in Cedartown, GA, Polk Medical Center is a 25-bed, critical access hospital. The facility houses a level IV trauma center, and provides 24/7 emergency services, with two trauma rooms, onsite imaging and laboratory services, a surgery wing with two operating rooms, and a helipad for emergency transportation. The hospital also provides family medicine, sub-acute rehabilitation, outpatient surgery, and cardiac imaging. 

Top children’s hospitals

UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Founded in 1890, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is a leader in the treatment of childhood conditions and diseases, a pioneer in the development of new and improved therapies, and a top educator of the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists. U.S. News & World Report ranked it #8 on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals for 2019-2020.

Texas Children's Hospital West Campus. Greater Houston’s first suburban hospital designed exclusively for children, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus offers expert pediatric outpatient services, inpatient care, and surgical services amid a serene, park-like setting.

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