When you're in the hospital, a lot of decisions are made for you. You're told what to eat, where to sleep, even what to wear!
Although you may feel dependent or vulnerable when you're hospitalized, you still need to be in charge of your health. One way to do this is to plan in advance.
The first step, when you can, is choosing the hospital. Most often, this happens when you choose a primary or specialist provider, because providers have privileges at specific hospitals.
For example, if you needed knee surgery and were deciding on a surgeon to perform the operation, you should ask where the surgeon has operating privileges and research the hospital. In some cases, your choice of surgeons will depend on who is in your primary provider's network. Some people find that they need to change primary providers to get the specialist (and hospital) that they want.
How do I choose a hospital?
Here are some of the factors you should consider when looking at hospitals:
- Patient satisfaction
- Amount of experience with the surgery or procedure you are having
- Safety reports
- Quality indicators
- Integrative therapies offered
Depending on where you live, some of this information may be available online. For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a hospital locator and comparison tool on their website.
The Leapfrog Group provides information on healthcare quality at different hospitals, and 100 Top Hospitals is another good resource for finding the best care available.