Posted by John Ager on 17 October 2011.
It’s been said that if you want to stay healthy, stay away from hospitals. Unfortunately, not everyone can heed that advice. Thousands of medical errors occur in hospitals every day, many resulting in serious injury and death. I always tell my friends and clients to have someone they can trust with them at all times during a hospitalization to protect against medical malpractice and hospital negligence and to ensure that they receive timely, good-quality care. Unfortunately, that is not always enough. But how do you determine how safe your hospital is and what kind of care you can expect to receive?
Medicare is ready to tell you at http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/. This feature of Medicare’s website evaluates the rates for a variety of medical errors including surgical errors, post-surgical infection and blood clots, other post surgical complications and blood typing errors. Medical malpractice is very often at the heart of such errors harming thousands of patients each day.
The information is not without criticisms. For example, the database does not take into account teaching hospitals and hospitals which do more surgeries or treat sicker patients, which generally have poorer patient outcomes. Failing to adjust for these factors may result in a hospital receiving a more unfavorable rating than it otherwise might.
Still, the information, while imperfect, provides another useful tool to help consumers evaluate hospital services, which is especially useful when given a choice of facilities. Not all hospitals are created equal and you have a right to know about the kind of care you can expect to receive .