) -- Residents of Baltimore have access to the best hospital care in the country, according to rankings released on Tuesday by


, a health care information Web site.

Baltimore came out on top after nine of its 19 full-service hospitals got HealthGrades' award for clinical excellence. The distinction is based on a comprehensive study of patient death and complication rates at the nation's nearly 5,000 hospitals.

Residents of Baltimore have access to the best hospital care, according to rankings released by HealthGrades.

"We're looking at the end point," says Kristin Reed, vice president of hospital ratings for HealthGrades. She adds that Baltimore, overall, has the lowest death and in-hospital complication rates related to 26 of the most common diagnoses of Medicare beneficiaries, including heart attack, stroke, pneumonia and complications related to diabetes.

To put the city's stellar performance in perspective, only 263 hospitals got the Web site's clinical excellence award. These hospitals have a 30.07% lower risk-adjusted mortality rate and a 1.86% lower risk-adjusted in-hospital complication rate among Medicare beneficiaries compared with all other hospitals captured in the study.

Reed says these distinguished hospitals also tend to have strong leadership and dedication to quality, and often track mortality and complication rates on their own.

Based on the rankings, the top 10 markets for hospital care are:


    Phoenix-Prescott, Ariz.

    Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    Richmond, Va.


    West Palm Beach, Fla.

    Chattanooga, Tenn.

    St. Louis

    Hartford-New Haven, Conn.

    Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo, Minn.

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