SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Diego and UC San Diego Health System were included Tuesday in a list of America's top hospitals, as selected by a nationwide coalition of public and private purchasers of employee health coverage.

The Leapfrog Group survey, in its 11th year, emphasizes patient safety.

Leapfrog said the ratings recognize hospitals that deliver the highest quality care by preventing medical errors, reducing mortality for high-risk procedures like heart bypass surgery, and reducing hospital re-admissions for patients being treated for conditions like pneumonia and heart attack.

"Our primary goal is to focus on wellness, and to prevent serious illness that may require a hospital stay," said Dr. Paul Bernstein, the area medical director of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group in San Diego. "This honor gives our patients additional reassurance that they will receive the highest quality care in a safe environment when they need hospitalization."

Representatives of Kaiser and UCSD said the installation of high-tech computer systems for medical records was a big reason why they were honored.

"When our faculty leadership voted to fund the implementation of an (electronic records system) in 2004, it started a revolution in how information is communicated and medicine is practiced at UC San Diego Health System," said Dr. Tom McAfee, interim chief executive officer and dean of Clinical Affairs for UC San Diego Health Sciences.

"The real leadership though, has come from the physicians who embraced information technology very early on," McAfee said.

The two were among 26 hospitals recognized by the Leapfrog Group in its "Top Hospitals" category. The organization also honored rural medical centers and children's hospitals.