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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Families in Arkansas receive world-class care for their children's heart conditions, according to U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH) among its Best Children's Hospitals 2014-2015 list for Cardiology and Heart Surgery.

The annual list ranked ACH's heart transplant program as "superior" and also gave high marks to its nurse:patient ratio and pressure ulcer prevention strategies. The program ranked No. 35 on the pediatric subspecialty list for Cardiology and Heart Surgery.

"Our staff and families know from experience that hearts are in the very best of hands at Arkansas Children's Hospital," said ACH President and CEO Marcy Doderer, FACHE. "We are proud to have U.S. News & World Report's designation, as well."

Arkansas Children's Hospital offers the only pediatric heart transplant program in the state, and treats patients from throughout the region for complex conditions that can't be addressed elsewhere. In 2011, ACH set a national record for pediatric heart transplants, saving the lives of 31 children through the gift of donor organs. The unit offers 37 beds for children with congenital heart defects and also treats adults who were diagnosed with heart conditions during childhood.

"Arkansas Children's Hospital emphasizes clinical excellence so that families can be assured they receive better care, better health and better value close to home," said ACH Senior Vice President/Chief Medical Officer Jay Deshpande, MD, MPH. "This is embodied in our Heart Center, as well as in every unit across our campus."

Introduced by U.S. News in 2007 to help families of very sick children, the Best Children's Hospitals rankings are the only comprehensive source of quality-related information on individual pediatric centers in the U.S.

"Finding care for a child with a life-threatening or rare condition is one of the most overwhelming experiences parents face," said Ben Harder, managing editor of health care analysis at U.S. News. "We hope the rankings and information in Best Children's Hospitals help make a family's search for the best care possible for their child a little easier."

The methodology behind the new rankings underwent various changes this year. The scoring weight assigned to infection prevention and to use of "best practices" was increased and the weight of hospital reputation was decreased, to cite two such changes.

Five-sixths (83.3 percent) of each hospital's score relied on patient outcomes and the care-related resources each hospital makes available. To gather clinical data, U.S. News sent a clinical questionnaire to 183 pediatric hospitals. The remaining one-sixth (16.7 percent) derived from three years' of responses to an annual survey of 150 pediatric specialists and subspecialists in each specialty. The physicians were asked where they would send the sickest children in their specialty, setting aside location and expense.

Survival rates, adequacy of nurse staffing and procedure volume are among the many kinds of information about each ranked hospital that can be viewed on http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/pediatric-rankings. The rankings will be published in the U.S. News "Best Hospitals 2015" guidebook (ISBN 978-1-931469-64-7), which will be available in August.

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