Practice Makes Perfect: How Patients Can Learn about Hospital Volume

Medicare’s “Hospital Compare” website is something every patient needs to know about. Based on statistics collected by the government program for medical care for patients over age 65, the website has a wealth of information — not always easy to find, but interesting.

One recent addition to the site is information about the volume of business a hospital has for a variety of selected common surgical procedures — such as coronary artery bypass, gall bladder surgery, intestinal surgery and a number of others. The numbers give you an idea of what a particular hospital’s bread and butter is, and whether there is some hospital in town that does a lot more of that surgery.

As I wrote in my book, “The Life You Save: Nine Steps to Finding the Best Medical Care — and Avoiding the Worst,” it’s best for a bunch of reasons to go with a hospital that sees many patients just like you. The doctors and nurses have more practice in handling your type of condition and are more aware of the kinds of complications that can occur and what to do to prevent or stop them short of disaster.

Another important website run by Medicare is “Nursing Home Compare.“. This site is even easier to use because it has a five-star system of rating nursing homes. Within a short distance, you can find a huge range of quality, as measured by staffing, inspections and other quality indicators.

It’s a lot harder to compare hospitals, because a hospital that is excellent for one kind of patient can be not-so-good for another. But both Medicare websites are worth a close look if you have a loved one who needs to go to a hospital or nursing home.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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