A children's hospital is a hospital which offers its services exclusively to children. The number of children's hospitals proliferated in the 20th century, as pediatric medical and surgical specialties separated from internal medicine and adult surgical specialties. Children's hospitals are characterized by greater attention to the psychosocial support of children and their families.
In addition to the psychosocial support of children and families, Children's Hospitals have the added benefit of being staffed by professionals who are trained in treating children. While many normal hospitals can treat children adequately, pediatric specialists may be a better choice when it comes to treating rare afflictions that may prove fatal or severely detrimental to young children, in some cases before birth. Also, many children's hospitals will continue to see children with rare illnesses into adulthood, allowing for a continuity of care.
Every year US News ranks the top children's hospitals in the country. For the year 2007, the top 10 Pediatric Hospitals were:
- Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
- Children's Hospital Boston
- Johns Hopkins Hospital
- Children's Hospital (Colorado)
- Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital
- Texas Children's Hospital
- Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
- New York-Presbyterian Hospital
- Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center (Seattle)
- Lucile Packard Children's Hospital
The ranking system used by US News & World Report depends on a variety of factors. In past years (2007 is the 18th year of Pediatric Ranking), ranking of hospitals has been done solely on the basis of reputation, gauged by random sampling and surveying of pediatricians and pediatric specialists throughout the country.
In the 2007 Best Hospitals edition, the first phase of a planned 3-5 year process of reworking the Pediatric Ranking process was introduced. While reputation still does count for a sizeable (2/3) amount of overall score, components such as death rate in key procedures and care related factors (1/3 of total score each) are now being included for the first time. Key procedures used in terms of quantifying death rate were tetralogy of Fallot repair, bone marrow transplantation, and cancerous brain tumor removal. Care related factors measured included whether or not a hosptial had attained Nursing Magnate Status, the level of cutting edge technologies used at the institution, and the presence of an established Palliative Care Program.
In future editions, it is hoped that reputation will begin to count for even less of an institution's total score, and that factors such as subspecialty rankings will begin to take on more importance.