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    Hospital Care: Does Your State Rate?

    All states -- even ones at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to hospital care -- have good hospitals and bad hospitals. What do you look for in a good hospital?

    Hospital Care, State by State continued...

    The report shows states such as Texas and Tennessee also had above-average death rates associated with these procedures -- which resulted in hundreds of unnecessary deaths between 2000 and 2002, researchers say. Meanwhile, hospitals in New York, New Jersey, and Florida had lower-than-normal death rates associated with these procedures that prevented many deaths.

    A complete list of rankings for each of the 26 procedures studied at almost 5,000 hospitals is available at www.healthgrades.com.

    Researchers compiled the rankings based on whether the patient outcomes at the various hospitals were better or worse than could normally be expected. A five-star rating reflects performance significantly better than expected, three stars reflects an average level of performance, and a one-star rating reflects care that was significantly worse than expected.

    Finding a Quality Hospital

    How can you choose the best quality hospital for the care you need? It is important to consider quality because research shows that some hospitals simply do a better job than others. For example, we know that hospitals that do a greater number of the same surgeries have better outcomes for their patients.

    Look for a hospital that:

    • Is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
    • Is rated highly by state or consumer or other groups
    • Is one where your doctor has privileges, if that is important to you
    • Is covered by your health plan
    • Has experience with your condition
    • Has had success with your condition
    • Checks and works to improve its own quality of care

    Asking the Right Questions

    Asking the right questions can help you make the best choices.

    Does the hospital meet national quality standards?

    Hospitals can choose to be surveyed by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) to make sure they meet certain quality standards. The standards address the quality of staff and equipment and the hospital's success in treating and curing patients. If a hospital meets those standards, it becomes accredited (gets a "seal of approval"). Reviews are done at least every three years. Most hospitals participate in this program.

    You can order JCAHO's performance reports free of charge by calling (630) 792-5800. Or check the JCAHO's Web site at www.jcaho.org for a hospital's performance report or for its accreditation status.

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