DC-area maternity hospitals among the best in US News rankings

Finding the right maternity ward can be stressful for expecting parents, but a new list ranks the best hospitals for “uncomplicated” pregnancies.

Using nationwide health data, U.S. News & World Report said it expanded its list of best hospitals to include rankings of best hospitals for maternity.

“Childbirth is an important experience in a mother’s life, and different parents want a different experience,” Ben Harder, managing editor and chief of health analysis at U.S. News told WTOP.

“We want to make sure that they just have access to the information about each of the hospitals they might choose to go to, so that they can make an informed decision and they can also have an informed conversation with their doctor.”

Out of the 2,700 hospitals in the U.S. that offer maternity services, U.S. News recognized 237. Information for the rankings was collected through surveys to hospitals last spring and summer, as well as federal data.

Rankings are made based on five factors:

  1. Scheduled early deliveries
  2. C-section rates in low-risk women
  3. Newborn complications
  4. Rate of exclusive breast milk feeding
  5. Option for vaginal births after caesarean

Only hospitals who were considered “high-performing” were ranked, others received a scorecard but not a rating.

Hospitals with comparatively fewer newborn complications, early deliveries and C-sections received better ratings. Harder said hospitals didn’t need to ace all five categories, but to be recognized, hospitals needed to perform well in most.

Although it didn’t affect hospitals’ ranking, the study also collected information on some amenities that could benefit parents deciding on a maternity ward: private rooms, valet parking and availability of child-birthing classes and lactation consultants.

In D.C., four hospitals participated in the report, but none were considered high-performing.

In Virginia, 19 hospitals participated; eight were recognized as high-performing:

  • VCU Medical Center
  • Inova Fair Oaks Hospital
  • Sentara RMH Medical Center
  • Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital
  • VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital
  • Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center
  • Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center
  • Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital

Fifteen Maryland hospitals participated; five were recognized as high-performing:

  • Anne Arundel Medical Center
  • Sinai Hospital of Baltimore
  • University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton
  • University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center
  • MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital

Johns Hopkins Hospital was not recognized.

Harder said he was reluctant to say what hospitals are doing right or wrong based on their ranking, as some facilities may not have been recognized for external factors.

Hospitals that attract pregnancies with complications, such as comorbidities or diabetes, “those tend to not to do as well,” Harder said. “And that’s probably because they don’t focus on uncomplicated pregnancy, which is what we are really focused on with this best hospitals evaluation.” Harder said only a couple of hospitals that tend to handle high-risk pregnancies made the list.

Harder said it’s important to note that facilities from small rural hospitals to large urban hospitals were able to meet the criteria.

“It’s really up to them to build the right structure and systems and team to make sure that they get the right outcomes for patients and that they support pregnant patients and new parents,” Harder said.

To read the full list, go to U.S. News’ website.

Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

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