August 6, 2019

On his blog this week, Mark Wallace shares his excitement about Texas Children’s once again being named among the top children’s hospitals in the nation according to the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings. He also announces a new Connect series that will feature each of the 10 subspecialty areas ranked in the U.S. News survey and highlight the programs, improvements and advancements that helped earn this year’s outstanding rankings. Read more

Early on the morning of June 18, Texas Children’s Heart Center staff filed into Taussig auditorium on the 16th floor of Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower. Details about the meeting’s purpose had been scarce. Little did everyone know that they’d been called in for a big reveal.

Texas Children’s Heart Center had once again been named the best place in the country for pediatric cardiology and heart surgery in the U.S. News and World Report 2019-2020 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings – the center’s third straight year at No. 1.

“It’s thrilling for our team to be recognized for the care we provide to our patients every day,” said Chief of Pediatric Cardiology Dr. Daniel Penny. “Even though we received the top honor, we know there is always room for improvement. We are continuing to evolve as a true multidisciplinary team that is dedicated to setting a new standard for the treatment of children and adults with congenital heart disease.”

The U.S. News rankings use a well-accepted framework for evaluating quality of health care, which factors in patient outcomes, such as mortality and infection rates; available clinical resources, such as specialized clinics and programs and external accreditations; and compliance with best practices. Improved rankings demonstrate a health care organization’s commitment to not only providing high-quality care, but also to identifying gaps where improvements are needed.

But where do you go when you’re No. 1?

“Our goal is to be so far ahead that no one can catch us,” said Dr. Christopher Caldarone, Texas Children’s chief of Congenital Heart Surgery. “Being No. 1 is a state of mind, where commitment to excellence is inherent in everything a program does. Our team has a No. 1 mindset. We work hard, we constantly measure our performance, and we drive ourselves to improve in every aspect of providing care.”

Big wins for patients and families

This past year, the Heart Center built on the successes of previously existing programs and also implemented new initiatives to increase transparency, reduce risk of infection and improve the quality of care.

  • Participated in STS National Database public reporting
    The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) is a national leader in health care transparency and accountability. Participation in STS public reporting demonstrates a commitment to quality improvement in health care delivery and helps provide patients and families with access to information that can help them make more informed health care decisions.

Texas Children’s holds a three-star rating in the STS Congenital Heart Surgery Database (CHSD), which is calculated based on overall risk-adjusted operative mortality for all patients undergoing pediatric and/or congenital heart surgery. The rating is the highest category of quality and places Texas Children’s among the elite congenital heart surgery programs in the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, STS recognized Texas Children’s for having operative and adjusted operative mortality rates that were consistently below expected rates over a 4-year period.

  • Implemented a program to routinely track and submit IMPACT data
    In partnership with clinical and physician leadership, the Heart Center’s Cardiac Catheterization Labs implemented processes to submit metrics on all catheterization procedures included in the American College of Cardiology’s IMPACT Registry®. This national register collects quality-focused data on the management and outcomes of pediatric and adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) patients who undergo diagnostic and interventional cardiac catheterization procedures. The registry also allows Heart Center leadership to compare performance against a national aggregate for quality improvement initiatives.
  • Increased the number of cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) RNs with greater than 2 years’ experience
    CICU care requires a multidisciplinary team effort. Success is due, in part, to the team’s being able to rely on experience. In the months leading up to the Heart Center’s move into Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower, CICU leadership worked tirelessly to not only recruit the very best nurses, but also to retain them. This enables the nurses to gain valuable experience and mature as caregivers, and also helps improve the overall quality of the CICU team. The response has been extremely positive, with low turnover.
  • Implemented a universal methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) decolonization treatment protocol
    To reduce the risk of infection faced by all surgical patients during the perioperative period, the Congenital Heart Surgery team partnered with experts from Infectious Disease to implement a universal decolonization protocol for MRSA, which causes infections that are more difficult to treat than methicillin-susceptible staph. The protocol, which involves five days of antibiotic ointment in the nose and five days of special wipes, has the added benefit of decreasing MRSA wound infections, and incidence of methicillin-susceptible staph ventilated-associated pneumonia and central line infections.

Learn more about the Heart Center, its services, and volume and outcomes.

July 23, 2019

For parents of children struggling with epilepsy, deciding the best path for treatment can be overwhelming. Fortunately, Texas Children’s has introduced a new surgical approach to treat seizures with a less invasive procedure that is preformed through a much smaller opening in the head, which translates to less blood loss, less post-op pain, less discomfort, less swelling and a quicker recovery. Learn more by visiting our 2018 virtual Annual Report.

July 15, 2019

Last year, Texas Children’s Hospital achieved the Magnet designation for the fourth consecutive time, which is considered the highest and most prestigious recognition provided by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, by demonstrating exceptional care delivery and teamwork to enhance patient outcomes. Learn more by visiting our 2018 virtual Annual Report.

July 9, 2019

Texas Children’s West Campus Urgent Care opened its doors in September 2018 and has served many patients since. Located next to Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, the West Campus Urgent Care opened to help manage the Emergency Center to serve patients and families in the west Houston area. Learn more by visiting our 2018 virtual Annual Report.

June 18, 2019

The results of the 2019 U.S. News & World Report survey of Best Children’s Hospitals are in, and Texas Children’s Hospital is again among the best in the nation!

This year, Texas Children’s tied for third place among all children’s hospitals nationally, a ranking no other pediatric hospital in the state has ever achieved.

In addition, for the first time, Texas Children’s is ranked in the top 10 in each of the U.S. News & World Report-recognized pediatric sub-specialties. Six of our sub-specialties were ranked in the top 3 – two are ranked #1, two are ranked #2, and another two are ranked #3.

“We should all be very proud of this remarkable accomplishment,” said Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace. “It is because of our One Amazing Team and each team member’s steadfast commitment to quality and excellence that we were able to reach this achievement. Thank you for your dedication to Texas Children’s Hospital and to the patients and families we serve.”

Some highlights of the 13th annual Best Children’s Hospitals rankings for Texas Children’s include:

  • Cardiology and Congenital Heart Surgery is again ranked #1 in the nation, due in part to our increasing the number of RNs in the PICU with more than two years of experience, and exceeding thresholds in four-year combined risk-adjusted operative mortality.
  • Pulmonology, which first debuted in the top spot in the 2016 rankings, is again ranked #1 in the nation. We decreased the percentage of patients readmitted to the hospital to address asthma-related symptoms, and exceeded thresholds in structure metrics, such as mean LOS for asthma patients.
  • Nephrology moved up a spot and is now ranked #2 in the nation, with a significant decrease in hemodialysis catheter associated BSI and an improvement in children younger than 5 years of age receiving hemodialysis.
  • Gastroenterology & GI surgery rose to #2 in the nation from #4, achieving successful Kasai procedures in biliary atresia patients and improving the percentage of patients experiencing prednisone-free admission.
  • Cancer is #3 in the nation, up from #6. We increased the five-year survival of patients with neuroblastoma and increased the percentage of patients who received intravenous treatment antibiotics within an hour of triage.
  • Neurology and Neurosurgery remained at #3 in the nation, showing a significant improvement in 30-day unplanned return to the operating room for craniotomy and a decrease in readmission within 30 days of surgery for Chiari decompression patients.

Our entire list of rankings includes:

#1 Cardiology and Congenital Heart Surgery
#1 Pulmonology
#2 Gastroenterology and GI surgery
#2 Nephrology
#3 Neurology and Neurosurgery
#3 Cancer
#6 Urology
#7 (tie) Neonatology
#8 Diabetes and Endocrinology
#10 Orthopedics

Overall, Texas Children’s exceeded nursing intensity thresholds, made significant improvement in ICU CLABSI rates and exceeded thresholds for hospital acquired pressure injuries.

U.S. News & World Report introduced the Best Children’s Hospitals rankings in 2007 to help families of children with rare or life-threatening illnesses find the best medical care available. The rankings are the most comprehensive source of quality-related information on U.S. pediatric hospitals.

The U.S. News Best Children’s Hospitals rankings rely on clinical data and on an annual survey of pediatric specialists. The rankings methodology factors in patient outcomes, such as mortality and infection rates, as well as available clinical resources and compliance with best practices.

“The results also reflect the efforts of our team and their unwavering focus on the U.S. News survey,” Wallace said. “Compiling and refining our data is a continuous process and, with the support of our medical staff, in-chiefs, service chiefs, as well as Mark Mullarkey, Trudy Leidich, Elizabeth Pham and the entire Quality team, we have made significant strides this past year.”

This year’s rankings will be published in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals 2020” guidebook, available in stores mid-September or online at You can learn more about Texas Children’s rankings here.

June 10, 2019

The Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women garnered several top distinctions in medical care for women and babies by excelling in maternity quality measures like breastfeeding practices, minimally invasive gynecology and exceeding patient satisfaction. Learn more by visiting our 2018 virtual Annual Report.