Finding the Right Hospital

In this Article:
Finding the Right Hospital
Who Owns the Hospital
Asking the Right Questions

Of course not all hospitals are alike, but what are the differences and how might they affect your treatment and your experience? When shopping for a hospital, there are many questions to consider. For example, how does the hospital stack up against the state and the nation in the procedure you will be undergoing? After all, not every hospital is staffed with an equally talented set of health professionals who perform every procedure equally well.

Choosing a hospital is not to be taken lightly, for obvious reasons, and your research should with a visit to, and discussion with, your treatment doctor. The following piece offers a wide variety of information regarding hospitals as well as a number of issues and questions to raise during that visit.

Types of hospitals

Recommendations from both the American Hospital Association (AHA) and Consumer Reports suggest determining:

• If the hospital offers general or specialized care;
• If a particular hospital is a teaching hospital;
• If the hospital is profit or not-for-profit.

General or specialized care

Of the 6,500 hospitals in the US, most can be categorized as general hospitals, which simply means they are capable of dealing with a very broad range of medical conditions, and certainly the most common conditions that require hospital treatment.

However as many as 1,000 hospitals specialize: Either in a disease or condition, such as cancer or mental illnesses, or in a particular patient, such as children or the elderly. These specialized hospitals are likely better informed about emerging treatments and new technologies. Keep in mind that unless you live very close to a major urban center, the odds of a specialist hospital being conveniently close to your home are not that good.

Teaching hospitals

Teaching hospitals aim to treat patients, do research and train physicians and they are typically affiliated with a medical school. In one sense this might benefit you as a patient, as the hospital could have access to professors or renowned specialists, or be treated with cutting edge programs or technologies.

However, there are reasons not to choose a teaching hospital. The quality of care at a community hospital, especially for routine procedures and surgeries, will likely be as good as it will be at a teaching hospital. Also, cutting edge technologies can be very expensive and may be experimental as well, meaning they may not be the best treatment options for you.

Finally, if you do choose a teaching hospital, try your best to avoid going in the summer. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, July is the deadliest time of year at these hospitals because all the new doctors start at that time. the Bureau estimates that each July as many as 14 patients die a lot sooner than they should have at teaching hospitals.



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