What Do You Need To Know When Choosing a Hospital?

Do you have a hospital you automatically go to for medical procedures?  Most of us do. But being the largest or most popular hospital doesn’t always mean the best.

A recent study by Consumer Reports revealed that patients should choose a hospital based on the experience of the medical facility and their surgeon, as well as facts about patient results, not on emotions or a hospital’s popularity.

When choosing a hospital, ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s the percentage of patients who contract dangerous infections while in the hospital?  Are the infections due to uncleanliness of the hospital and/or improper washing-up of the staff?  Are they due to a lack of patient care?
  • What’s the percentage of patients who have to be readmitted after they’re discharged, or who die while in the hospital?
  • How many times has the hospital performed the medical procedure you’re having?  The more the better.
  • Are you getting the personal attention you need?  Although they are usually very good hospitals, teaching hospitals have a frequently changing staff, which may make it difficult for you to communicate with doctors and nurses.

Consumer Reports listed several websites to help you find the information you need to make the best decisions. All of the sites explain very well why the data is important and how it was collected.  I’ve researched each of them and narrowed them down based on ease of use and information available:

www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare – Plug in your zip code, choose 3 hospitals from the list and compare information.  Click a tab at the top of the page to compare things such as Readmissions, Complications and Deaths.

www.jointcommission.org – This website has a vast amount of educational information that I would encourage anyone to read. However, if you want to review hospital specific information, choose Quality Check under the Quick Links box and search your hospital, state or zip code.

www.hospitalsafetyscore.org – Very easy to use. Type your hospital and search.  Data reviewed for all general acute care hospitals.  More than 2,600 hospitals received a score.

www.healthgrades.com – Very easy to use. Type your hospital and search.  The tabs across the top allow you to review such things as patient safety and readmission rates.  If you look at the details you are able to see how many procedures the results were based on.

I hope this will help you and your family make informed decisions about hospital care.






Lawsuits or Medical Errors: What’s The Real Problem

Medical Malpractice Payments Fall       Many special interests want to close the courthouse doors to Georgia citizens who suffer terrible injuries or death because of the negligence of healthcare personnel.  The special interests complain about "frivolous lawsuits" and the alleged "crisis" of medical malpractice lawsuits.  When you peek behind the surface, however, the truth is that we are suffering from a problem with people being killed or injured by medical errors rather than a problem with lawsuits.  For example, as this article by Chelsey Ledue shows, the number of payments related to malpractice claims fell in 2009, and the amount paid is at its lowest level since 1992.

The Real Problem:  Failure to Protect Patients    In 1999, the Institute of Medicine found that 44,000-98,000 people die every year due to preventable medical errors!  In 2004, the problem was worse, and according to the report by Health Grades, medical errors would be ranked as the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.   And in 2009, it is estimated by the Hearst Newspapers that approximately 200,000 people would die due to medical errors and hospital infections!  These are frightening statistics that don’t  get the attention they deserve.  

    Please take a moment to review the report by Public Citizen that shows the real problem is too many Americans die needlessly from medical errors.  Thus, we should focus on keeping patients safe and holding hospitals and medical personnel accountable when they needlessly harm patients.  The right to trial by jury is essential to hold wrongdoers accountable.  We should not allow special interests groups to take away this right.