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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Choosing a Hospital

Does my doctor have privileges at the hospital (is permitted to admit patients)?

(_) Yes (_) No

If not, you would need to be under the care of another doctor while at the hospital.

Does my health plan cover care at the hospital?

(_) Yes (_) No

If not, do you have another way to pay for your care?

If going to a certain hospital is important to you, keep that in mind when choosing a doctor and/or health plan. In general, you will go to the hospital where your doctor has "privileges."

Does the hospital have experience with my condition?

(_) Yes (_) No

For example, "general" hospitals handle a wide range of routine conditions, such as hernias and pneumonia. "Specialty" hospitals have a lot of experience with certain conditions (such as cancer) or certain groups (such as children). You may be able to choose General Hospital "X" for gallbladder surgery, Specialty Hospital "Y" if you need care for a heart condition, and Specialty Hospital "Z" for your children.

You also may want to find out if the hospital has a special team of health professionals that works with people with your condition or treatment.

Has the hospital had success with my condition?

(_) Yes (_) No

Research shows that hospitals that do many of the same types of procedures tend to have better success with them. In other words, "practice makes perfect." Ask your doctor or the hospital if there is information on:

  • How often the procedure is done there.
  • How often the doctor does the procedure.
  • The patient outcomes (how well the patients do).

Also, some health departments and others publish reports on "outcomes studies" about certain procedures. These studies show, for example, how well patients do after having heart bypass surgery. Such studies can help you compare which hospitals and surgeons have had the most success with a procedure.

How well does the hospital check and improve on its own quality of care?

More and more hospitals are trying to improve the quality of their care. One way is to keep track of patient outcomes for certain procedures. Another way is to keep track of patient injuries and infections that occur in the hospital. By finding out what works and what doesn't, the hospital can improve the way it treats patients.

Ask the hospital quality management (or assurance) department how it monitors and improves the hospital's quality of care. Also, ask for any patient satisfaction surveys the hospital has done. These will tell you how other patients have rated the quality of their care.

Sources of Additional Information

A Patient's Bill of Rights
Available from the American Hospital Association. Free.

Telephone: (312) 422-3000
Web site:
(Click on Resource Center; go to Search at bottom of page; type in Patient's Bill of Rights.)
Also available from Fax on Demand, at (312) 422-2020; document number 471124.

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