Most people check restaurant ratings or read consumer reviews before they make a choice. Shouldn’t you also check the quality of the hospitals you rely on when you need medical care?

In an emergency, your life may depend on getting to the nearest hospital. When you can, plan ahead, you and your doctor should discuss which hospital will best meet your health care needs.” (A)

“Identifying a better hospital on your own may be conceptually simple, but in practice it’s not so easy. (Obviously, this is something you’d want to consider in advance of an emergency like a heart attack.)” (B)

Sometimes the best way to start is by determining where not to go and then focusing on a group of possible appropriate hospitals.

Stories like this one, as a first step, can help you decide which hospitals to avoid.

“A few years ago a friend punctured her hand with a BBQ skewer. So she went to the nearest ER.

She was triaged and escorted to a treatment room. Then sat there for 45 minutes because the desk never told the doctor she was waiting, even though the ER had a computerized patient tracking system. A COMMUNICATIONS FAILURE.

While standing at the treatment room door, trying to remind the staff he was there, she overheard doctors talking about other patients’ clinical information. A HIPPA (CONFIDENTIALITY) VIOLATION.

A tetanus shot was ordered by the doctor, but it took another 45 minutes for the nurse to show up. A SYSTEMS PROBLEM.

When asked if she had washed her hand, the nurse said she always washed her hands after each patient. A PATIENT SAFETY ISSUE.

An email sent to the CEO got a “form letter” response addressed to the wrong last name. A PUBLIC RELATIONS PROBLEM.

Two weeks later when she touched the punctured area a splinter popped out. When this information was emailed to the ER Director the email response was “A splinter?! After reading the note and talking to the physician, I was under the impression that the wound was from a “barbeque skewer”. I guess it was not really clarified in the note whether it was metal or wood. I suppose I was just thinking that it was metal.” A CHARTING OMMISSION & A MEDICAL ERROR. AND AN OUTRAGEOUS STATEMENT TO PUT IN WRITING!”

“It’s still a good idea to check the quality ratings and consult with your doctor about where you’ll get the best care — and not be put off if it means driving a bit farther. It could save your life.” (B)

Here’s a link to “Steps to Choosing a Hospital Checklist”. (pages 7-10).



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