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Thursday October 29, 2020

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

How to Choose the Right Hospital for You

I need a hip replacement and want to find a good, safe hospital to have it done. What resources can you recommend for evaluating hospitals? I do not currently have a doctor.

Most people spend more time shopping for a kitchen appliance or flat-screen TV than choosing a hospital. However, selecting the right hospital can be as important as the doctor you choose. Here are some tips and resources to help you research hospitals in your area.

Hospital Shopping

While you may not always have the opportunity to choose your hospital, especially in the case of an emergency, having a planned procedure can offer you a variety of choices.

When shopping for a hospital, one of the most important criteria to consider is the strength of the department that will be treating your area of need. A facility that excels in coronary bypass surgery, for example, may not be the best choice for a hip replacement. Research shows that patients tend to have better results when they are treated in hospitals that have extensive experience with their specific condition.

In order to choose a hospital that is best for you, it is important to discuss your concerns and consider alternatives with the doctor who is treating you. Some doctors may be affiliated with several hospitals from which you can choose. If you have yet to select a doctor, finding a top hospital that has expertise with your condition can help you determine which physician to actually choose.

Another important reason to do some research is the all too frequent occurrence of hospital infections, which kill around 75,000 people in the U.S. each year. Checking the hospital’s infection rates and cleanliness procedures is also a smart move.

Free Researching Tools

There are a number of free online resources that can help you evaluate and compare hospitals in your area, including:
  • Medicare’s Hospital Compare (Medicare.gov/HospitalCompare): Operated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, this tool has data on more than 4,000 U.S. hospitals.
  • Why Not The Best (WhyNotTheBest.org): This tool was created by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that provides performance data on all U.S. hospitals.
  • The Leapfrog Group (LeapfrogGroup.org): This national, not-for-profit organization grades more than 2,000 U.S. hospitals on quality and safety.
These websites use publicly available data to rate hospitals on various measures of performance, like death rates from serious conditions such as heart failure and pneumonia, frequency of hospital-acquired infections, patient satisfaction and more.

On these websites, you plug in your location to find hospitals in your area. You can then check to see how each hospital manages patients in various conditions.

Two other websites that can help you choose a good facility include U.S. News & World Report (USNews.com/best-hospitals) and Healthgrades (Healthgrades.com).

U.S News & World Report is an online publication that publishes a hospital ranking in 17 medical specialties like cancer, orthopedics and urology. It also provides ratings on common procedures and conditions, such as heart bypass surgery, hip and knee replacement and COPD. They also rank hospitals regionally within states and major metro areas.

Healthgrades, which is a private, for-profit organization, provides free hospital ratings on patient safety and medical procedures and scores hospitals using a 5-star scale. They also provide comprehensive information on most U.S. doctors including their education and training, hospital affiliations, board certification, awards and recognitions, professional misconduct, disciplinary action and malpractice records, office locations and insurance plans.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published January 3, 2020
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