Are you scheduled for back surgery or considering it? In addition to a thorough check of your surgeon, you should probably check out your hospital too. While the surgeon is arguably the key factor in the procedure itself, the hospital staff, environment, and guidelines can impact things like choice of medication and use of antibiotics – choices that can cause variances among different hospitals, such as post-op infection rates for back surgery patients.
The notion of “hospital quality” would have been nearly impossible for consumers to ascertain even a few short years ago. But now, as part of the push to improve health care quality and lower costs, hospital information is becoming public.
Thanks to Theo Francis at the Wall Street Journal for compiling a list of hospital comparison resources available to the public.
Two major categories of data cover:
Best practices - which tracks how often hospitals follow recommended guidelines for particular procedures. Online resources include:
Procedure outcomes - which tracks how patients that have particular procedures actually fare. This data often covers mortality rates, readmissions and complications. Online resources such as:
This hard data should be considered along side the qualitative data provided by talking to others:a hospital’s reputation for back surgery (and ideally, for the particular type of surgical procedure e.g., fusion surgery, artificial disc replacement) in the community, the experiences other patients have had at that hospital, what a hospital’s employees say, and what a prospective patient learns and feels by calling up the hospital’s quality department or talking with the medical staff.
What other resources have you found helpful in assessing hospital quality?