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UC San Diego Health Ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report

Region’s only academic health system has 10 medical and surgical specialties rated among nation’s best

Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health.

UC San Diego Health is ranked first in San Diego and sixth in California, placing it among the nation’s best hospitals, according to the 2020-2021 U.S. News & World Report. The annual rankings are designed to assist patients and their doctors in making informed decisions about where to receive care for a variety of health conditions, common elective procedures and complex surgeries.

“This is an extraordinary honor that recognizes the dedication of our entire staff and represents the intersection of UC San Diego’s tripartite mission of delivering outstanding patient care through commitment to the community, groundbreaking research and inspired teaching,” said Patty Maysent, CEO, UC San Diego Health.

For the 2020-2021 rankings, U.S. News & World Report evaluated more than 4,500 hospitals nationwide in 16 specialties and 10 procedures and conditions. In the 16 specialty areas, just 134 hospitals (2.9 percent) were ranked in at least one specialty. UC San Diego Health was ranked in the top 50 for 10 specialties:

  • Pulmonology (10): For the past decade, UC San Diego Health has been consistently rated in the top tier of this medical specialty, involving medical and surgical therapies for pulmonary (lung) disease. Among other accomplishments, UC San Diego Health pioneered the development of surgical and angioplasty treatments for chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (blood clots in the lung’s arteries) and is a recognized leader in multiple areas, including sleep medicine and lung transplantation. Most recently, UC San Diego Health has led the way regionally in COVID-19 treatment and research. A team of doctors and nurses is collaborating with counterparts in Tijuana and Mexicali to optimize treatment of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 on both sides of the border.
  • Geriatrics (13): UC San Diego Health’s Geriatrics and Gerontology team is committed to providing top quality, evidence-based care to older adults, including addressing social and emotional needs. In 2019, UC San Diego Health became the first health care system in San Diego to be recognized by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement as an Age-Friendly Health System – Committed to Care Excellence and to appoint a medical director for geriatrics quality improvement. UC San Diego Health is also home to California’s first accredited geriatric emergency department at Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla. The Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) and the San Diego Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center for Minority Aging Research, both part of UC San Diego School of Medicine, are dedicated to studying the cause, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
  • Neurology & Neurosurgery (22): UC San Diego Health serves as an international destination for specialized, innovative neurologic and procedural care. The program at UC San Diego Health ranks first in the nation in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for neurosciences and third in the nation for neurology, receiving nearly $50 million in annual NIH support for groundbreaking discoveries and treatment of neurological disease. Deep sub-specialty expertise supports Level 4 Epilepsy and Comprehensive Stroke Center certifications, as well as Centers of Excellence in Parkinson’s disease, Lewy Body Dementia, Huntington’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Renowned brain tumor, skull base and spine centers advance the performance of path-defining procedures.
  • Cardiology and Heart Surgery (31): The Cardiovascular Institute at UC San Diego Health offers comprehensive care for advanced heart failure, heart and lung transplantation, complex coronary interventions, heart rhythm disorders, robotic and minimally invasive cardiac surgery, structural and adult congenital heart disease, percutaneous and surgical treatment of thromboembolic pulmonary vascular disease and intensive cardiac rehabilitation. Our heart and lung transplant programs boast superb one-year survival rates. Our physician-researchers are also involved in a robust basic science, clinical and translational research program in cardiovascular diseases.
  • Gastroenterology and GI Surgery (32): Nationally recognized for its groundbreaking care of patients with gastrointestinal and liver diseases, including colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, liver cirrhosis requiring transplant, fatty liver disease and esophageal and motility disorders by multidisciplinary teams of specialists, including endoscopists, oncologists, surgeons and radiologists. The Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at UC San Diego Health diagnoses and treats people with IBD from around the world, and the UC San Diego NAFLD Research Center is dedicated to performing leading-edge translational research in all aspects of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Nephrology (34): One of only seven federally-funded centers in the nation where physician-scientists are dedicated to designing state-of-the-art technologies and resources in the management of kidney disease and renal transplantation. As the only academic kidney transplant program in the region, UC San Diego Health offers patients access to advanced surgical techniques and treatments developed through innovative research.
  • Urology (36): With dedicated specialists in all urologic conditions, the Department of Urology at UC San Diego Health leads national clinical trials in urinary incontinence surgery and prostate cancer vaccines. UC San Diego researchers have pioneered robotic urologic reconstructive surgeries and innovative approaches to kidney stone treatment and prevention. The integrated kidney cancer program has instituted novel immunotherapeutic modalities to enable kidney preserving surgery for complex kidney cancers. UC San Diego has established the only multi-disciplinary Men’s Health clinic in the State of California.
  • Orthopedics (42): The Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine offers expert diagnoses and treatments for all types of muscular and skeletal diseases, conditions and injuries, as well as specialized expertise in surgery, sports medicine, oncology, trauma and rehabilitation. UC San Diego Health is the Official Health Care Provider of the San Diego Padres, UC San Diego Athletics and San Diego Seals Lacrosse.
  • Gynecology (46): UC San Diego Health offers more options in childbirth than any other hospital in San Diego. From prenatal care and menopause to endometriosis and gynecologic surgery, UC San Diego Health experts provide the highest quality of care for every stage of life. UC San Diego Health was the first in the region to offer comprehensive care through the Women’s Pelvic Medicine Center to address issues such as urinary incontinence, vaginal prolapse and urinary tract infections.
  • Cancer (47): Established in 1978, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center is the region’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. It is at the forefront in developing promising new therapies and bench-to-bedside innovations, as well as offering the latest surgical technologies and more than 300 clinical trials available to patients.

UC San Diego Health shares this year’s number one ranking in San Diego and number six ranking in California with another local hospital, which ranked in seven specialties.

“San Diego is incredibly fortunate to have so many reputable health care options,” said Maysent. “As San Diego’s only academic health system, UC San Diego Health is a recognized destination for patients with deeply complex diseases and conditions that require the multidisciplinary care and attention of nationally recognized experts. It is the tireless efforts that happen within our system that have been shown to make remarkable differences in the lab and at the hospital bedside.”

UC San Diego Medical Center

UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest.

UC San Diego Health is also rated by U.S. News & World Report as “high performing” in eight common procedures and conditions, which cover a spectrum of care from heart procedures, such as bypass and valve surgeries, to cancer surgeries for the lung and colon.

“From having a baby to joint replacement surgery or cancer care, patients look to U.S. News & World Report rankings to help make critical health care decisions for themselves and their families, and we take that responsibility very seriously,” said Chad VanDenBerg, MPH, chief quality and patient safety officer at UC San Diego Health. “We are thrilled that our focus on high reliability is being acknowledged in this way.”

U.S. News & World Report “Best Hospitals” methodologies in most areas of care are based largely on objective measures, such as risk-adjusted survival and discharge-to-home rates, volume and staffing of nursing, among other care-related indicators.

Another key component of U.S. News & World Report rankings is the expert opinion score, which is based on physicians from around the nation voting for the best hospitals in their specialty.

“Hospital reputation is not only important to patients, but it allows UC San Diego Health to be more competitive with the recruitment of top trainees and faculty, as well as help drive physician referrals for challenging cases,” said Chris Longhurst, MD, chief information officer and associate chief medical officer for quality and safety at UC San Diego Health. “It is these contributors that allow us to be successful and remain on the forefront of care both locally and nationally.”

Through its rankings, U.S. News & World Report has worked to make hospital quality more transparent to health care consumers nationwide for three decades. “Our goal is to provide the most comprehensive data available on nearly every hospital across the United States,” said Ben Harder, managing editor and chief of health analysis at U.S. News & World Report. “The hospitals that rise to the top of our rankings and ratings have deep medical expertise, and each has built a track record of delivering good outcomes for patients. It is a distinguished accomplishment for a hospital to be ranked among the best.”

“We are extremely proud,” said Maysent. “The rankings remind us, as we continue to face a global pandemic, that our diligence and efforts make a difference and that we are extremely grateful to serve every patient who comes through our doors.”

UC San Diego Health is comprised of UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest and Jacobs Medical Center, Sulpizio Cardiovascular Institute, Moores Cancer Center, Shiley Eye Institute, and the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute, all in La Jolla, as well as primary care and same-day services at clinics throughout Southern California. UC San Diego Health Medical Center is home to the area’s only Regional Burn Center and one of only two Level I trauma centers in the county.


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