How Hospitals Make The Grade
All hospitals are not created equal. According to an American study, patients in lower-rated hospitals had a 72% greater chance of dying and an 80% greater chance of experiencing a hospital-acquired complication than those in higher-rated hospitals. You don’t need to travel to one of the top hospitals in the nation to receive quality care. But you should consider several important factors when choosing among the hospitals in your area. Clearly, more data can help you in your efforts to choose the best hospital for your needs. But which numbers really matter? Death and complication rates – the lower the better – are important to consider. But keep in mind that statistics can be misleading. Some of the best hospitals have high mortality and complication rates, not because of medical errors and safety issues, but because they take on the sickest and most difficult-to-treat patients. Other statistics, such as nurse-to-patient ratio (six to 10 patients for every nurse is considered ideal) and rates of hospital-acquired infections (which should be zero or near zero), offer simpler barometers of patient care. Good hospitals will also make their ratings and statistics on complications, infections, staffing, and mortality accessible to the public on the hospital’s own website or through a simple phone call. Be sure to get data on the specific treatment that is relevant to you. If you need coronary artery bypass grafting surgery, for instance, ask about the survival and complication rates associated with that procedure.