How to choose the best hospital for surgery
The quality of the health care you receive depends on many things besides the skill of your surgeon. Many health care providers at a hospital will be directly involved in your care before, during, and after surgery.
The work of all the hospital staff affects how well the hospital functions. This affects your safety and the quality of the care you will receive there.
CHOOSING THE BEST HOSPITAL FOR SURGERY
A hospital can offer many things to improve the quality of care you receive. For instance, find out if your hospital has:
- A floor or unit that does only the type of surgery you are having. (For instance, for hip replacement surgery, do they have a floor or unit that is used only for joint-replacement surgeries?)
- Specific guidelines or clinical pathways so that everyone who has your type of surgery receives the kind of care they need.
- Enough surgery specific nurses.
It can also be helpful to know how many surgeries like yours have been done at the hospital you have chosen or are considering for your surgery. People who have surgery at hospitals that do more of the same type of procedure often do better.
If you are having a surgery that involves newer techniques, find out how many of these procedures your hospital has already done.
It is important that you have these discussions with your surgeon before your procedure.
Hospitals are asked to report events called "quality measures." These measures are reports of different things that affect patient care. Some common quality measures include:
- Patient injuries, such as falls
- Patients who receive the wrong medicine or the wrong dosage of a medicine
- Complications, such as infections, blood clots, and pressure ulcers (bedsores)
- Readmission (to the hospital after discharge) and death (mortality) rates
Hospitals receive scores for their quality. These scores can give you an idea of how your hospital compares to other hospitals.
Find out if your hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission (a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the quality and safety of health care).
Also see if your hospital is rated highly by state agencies or consumer or other groups. Some places to look for hospital ratings are:
- State reports -- some states require hospitals to report certain information to them, and some publish reports that compare hospitals in the state.
- Nonprofit groups in some areas or states work with businesses, doctors, and hospitals to gather information about quality. You can look for this information online.
- The US Government gathers and reports information about hospitals. You can find this information online at
www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html. You can also find information about choosing the best doctor online.
- Your health insurance company may rate and compare how different hospitals perform on the surgery you are having. Ask your insurance company if it does these ratings.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website. Hospital quality initiative public reporting: hospital care compare and provider data catalog.
The Leapfrog Group website. Choosing the right hospital.
Last reviewed on: 12/12/2022
Reviewed by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 05/01/2023.