When it comes to picking a hospital, Manatee County residents have a wide variety of choices. Three acute care facilities, Manatee Memorial Hospital, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Blake Medical Center, and a psychiatric and addictions facility, Manatee Glens Hospital, are within county borders. To the south, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota and HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital offer even more choices. To the north, All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg and H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa as well as two veterans hospitals and other acute care facilities offer specialized care. All of these options, while good for consumers, force us to do some research.
How to choose? First, check your insurance plan, which may require you to go to a specific facility. If you have a choice of hospitals, do your homework, beginning with these basic questions from the National Institutes of Health:
n Is the hospital accredited by the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Organizations?
n Is the hospital rated highly by state and consumer groups?
n Does your doctor have privileges at the hospital?
n Does the hospital routinely offer the procedure or treatment you require? What are the success rates?
n Does the hospital routinely monitor the quality of care provided?
So where do you get this information? You can order free-of-charge performance reports on hospitals accredited by the joint commission by calling (630) 792-5800 or visiting www.jcaho.org. Hospital report cards and comparison charts provided by the state of Florida and consumer groups offer valuable information.
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration has created a Web site that compares the quality of care offered at all hospitals in the state at www.Florida- HealthFinder.gov. Another tool is the Hospital Compare Web site provided through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Hospital Quality Alliance, a public-private collaboration established to promote the reporting of hospital quality control measures. Hospital Compare displays rates for process of care measures that show whether hospitals provide the care recommended for patients being treated for a heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, asthma (children only) or patients having surgery.
Hospitals voluntarily submit data from their medical records about the treatments their patients receive for these conditions, including patients with Medicare and those who do not have Medicare. The Web site also displays information on hospital outcome of care measures, including 30-day mortality rates for patients with Medicare who were admitted to the hospital for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia.
Consumer groups publish comparison guides to hospitals and other health care choices.
Popular lists include:
n Solucient Top 100 Hospitals in America, at www.100tophospitals.com
n U.S. News and World Reports Best Hospitals list at www.usnews.com/besthospitals
n HealthGrades at www.healthgrades. com And don’t forget to ask your doctor, friends and family for their opinion.