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How do you choose a hospital?

Written by Diane Archer

All hospitals are not created equal. In fact, there are some with records suggesting you may leave in worse health than you arrived. Many factors contribute to whether a hospital will provide you with the care you need and not jeopardize your health. So, how do you choose a hospital?

CMS updated its Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings in February. It gave only 293 hospitals out of more than 4,500 a five-star rating.

CMS’ Hospital Compare website reports on quality measures that go into its star ratings. Medicare has been collecting data on hospitals and rating them on Hospital Compare for several years, based on 62 independent ratings.

On Hospital Compare, you can learn about hospitals with high readmission rates and hospitals that CMS has penalized, hospitals which you might want to avoid. You can also learn about hospitals with high rates of hospital-acquired infections.

Questions that are factored into the star-rating system include:

  • How frequently do patients get an infection after surgery?
  • The average wait patients have in the Emergency Department before seeing a doctor?
  • How often do patients develop complications after hip replacement surgery?
  • Chances of patients being readmitted to the hospital after a heart attack?
  • The number of times patients receive CT scans or MRI’s?

Medicare star ratings do not tell the whole story about the quality of a hospital, and you should not rely exclusively upon them.

If you are choosing a hospital, you should also visit the Informed Patient Institute, a non-profit that grades the different entities rating hospitals in each state. Right now, the IPI gives Medicare’s Hospital Compare a B grade because there is a lot of missing data. Medicare has not collected information on several measures.

Here’s more from Just Care:

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