Hospitals 101

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Have you done your hospital homework?

hide captionHave you done your hospital homework?

Source: katherine of chicago

We once had a guest on the show say that most people took more time to research a kitchen appliance than a hospital. Sad, but true - at least in my case. I've just never thought about it much. And if I need emergency care, I assume I'll be taken to the nearest ER. But there's more and more information available that makes it easier to compare hospitals. At a government site called (appropriately enough) Hospital Compare, you can check out services available, quality of care, and for the first time the survival rates for specific illnesses. Of course, it's best to do your homework now rather than later by Blackberry in the back of an ambulance. Any hints on what you do to research a hospital?

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I'm a resident physician and do research in health policy. I think one particularly symptomatic issue that has not been addressed in this debate is residency training. There is ample evidence in the top journals and it is crystal clear from comparisons to other countries that patient care suffers as a result of the 80+ hours per week residents work routinely in this country, particularly in intensive care units. From other countries we know it is absolutely feasible to provide high quality training in the same amount of time, while still giving physicians in training the same protection from exploitative conditions that exist in all other industries. Why is this abuse allowed to continue?

Sent by Gabe | 2:45 PM | 8-26-2008

I just had a friend die, after being found collapsed on the street, a few blocks from the hospital where he had been taken the night before after a severe car accident. He was then taken to the trauma center in another town to have his organs donated. The local police insinuated that he was a homeless person who had committed suicide, ignoring the staples in his head and the fact that he had severe injuries from the car accident, including a torn liver and kidney damage. He was not homeless and had health insurance from his job. Of course, they knew the truth, just protecting themselves and the hospital. With HIPPA it is difficult to get the medical records. Also two different agencies investigate once you have proof of neglect, one on the doctors and the other on the hospital.

Sent by Carol Lee | 3:38 PM | 8-26-2008

I would like to compare, but the HOSPIAL COMPARE link off of your main site does not work - the link off this Comments page did work, but the other one is giving me "sorry, page unavailable:

Sent by Bob | 5:48 PM | 8-27-2008

You might be able to check out a hospital and its "quality of care," but as long as ours is based on a business model where making money is more important than patient care, whether you can afford a good hospital will depend on what you pay for health insurance, and as for mine, after around the first $2,000 (which won't even pay for one night), I am responsible for all the expenses. Healthcare? What world are you living in?

Sent by r.k. matthews | 8:27 PM | 8-27-2008

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