CHOOSE THE RIGHT PLACE FOR YOUR PROCEDURE
Don’t just pick the closest facility.
In an emergency, of course, you want to get to the nearest hospital—fast. But if you’re scheduling a surgery or procedure, selecting the right hospital, medical center, or surgery center could save your life, even if it means paying more to go out of network. A 2016 study in the journal PLOS One found that patients at the worst American hospitals were three times more likely to die during their stay (and 13 times more likely to have complications) than patients with the same health problem at the best hospitals. Three key questions to ask:
How many times last year did the hospital perform the surgery you’re getting?
Multiple studies show that the more often a hospital does a procedure, the better the outcome will be. You are significantly more likely to have complications—sometimes fatal ones—in a facility that performs the surgery only once or twice a year, Dr. Pronovost says.
Does the ICU have critical-care specialists?
Called intensivists, these specialists are experts on caring for the sickest patients. Studies show they decrease medication errors by 22 to 70 percent and complications by 50 percent. More important, your risk of death drops 30 percent if an intensivist manages your care.
Low numbers indicate that the hospital has good safety and quality management, says Dr. Pronovost. Choose a hospital that has fewer than two bloodstream infections for every 1,000 days someone in the hospital has a catheter.