Are All Hospitals Created Equal?
All hospitals have the same objectives, which are to heal and preserve the life of patients. Yet, some hospitals may not have the means to effectively treat patients, especially during an emergency. These hospitals, like rural facilities, often have fewer resources or other obstacles that affect care. If a patient has an elective surgery or visit, there is enough time to choose the best available facility. In an emergency, however, that same patient will want the best available facility. Using some simple criteria, patients can pick a hospital beforehand.
Why should you choose a hospital?
Doctors in the United States perform about 50 million surgeries yearly. These surgeries happen at hospitals, surgical centers, and even private practices. With so many procedures, there is a chance of receiving poor service, especially during an emergency. Patients would want to go to a facility with high success rates, low wait times, and advanced capabilities.
What's their specialty and philosophy?
The first step is to research the hospitals in the community. These are the facilities that will likely be used in an emergency. Expand to surrounding towns, cities, and finally, the state. Some hospitals build a reputation for providing high-quality services. Others invest in the latest medical technology. Narrow down the list, then look at these hospitals' success rates. What are the procedures or techniques that each excels at? What is the hospital’s treatment philosophy? Use this data, along with past patient testimonials, to decide. Many online resources can help patients compare hospitals by zip code.
Aligning with your doctor
Some family doctors or surgeons work in nearby hospitals. Patients often feel more comfortable with a doctor and medical team who are aware of any preexisting conditions. Patients may consider choosing the hospital of the primary care provider. Since the hospital and doctors are experienced, the success rates are much higher. The patient's doctor can also recommend alternatives that can provide similar care.
Safety and infection rates
After narrowing down the list, look at the hospital data. Hospitals report on many data points, including complication and mortality rates. Even if the complication and death stats are low, infection rates are another concern. About 1 in 25 patients develop healthcare-associated infections. Surgical site infections, for instance, can cause more pain and prolong healing. These statistics are based on averages, so some hospitals may have higher infection rates than others. Look for a facility that takes great care in reducing infections.
With increasing healthcare costs, patients will want to ensure expenses are covered, especially in emergencies. Therefore, insurance will play a crucial role in choosing the right hospital. For instance, some hospitals will accept all standard insurance carriers. At the same time, there are an increasing number of hospitals that do not accept insurers like Medicare and Medicaid. Even if the facility accepts insurance, the provider may not agree on some services. Contact the administration and insurer in advance for more details on coverage, then choose the top facilities in the area.
Everyone deserves quality hospital care. In life-threatening emergencies, most patients have no choice but to go to the nearest facility. However, if a patient has done some due diligence, there could be a hospital of choice. Friends, family, and personal health care providers can then be made aware of these options.