How to Find the Best Hospital For You

Having a baby? Have to undergo surgery (boo) or another procedure?

Here, local doctors explain how to decide which hospital to trust.

Research, research, research.
There are a variety of online resources when you’re considering which hospital is best for you. “Hospital Compare and The National Research Corporation are two quality web sites because they contain substantial data like complications, infection rates and patient satisfaction,” says Tom McAfee, President of Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. “There’s nothing wrong with checking out Yelp either, but I wouldn’t rely solely on that.” And don’t forget to ask your friends, neighbors and family. “We have 70,000 ER visits here. Word about our quality of bedside care has gotten around,” he says.

Pay particular attention to the hospital’s report card.
A hospital’s report card is an analysis of how well the facility performs on a series of measures, such as patient safety, staffing, patient satisfaction and costs of services. “You can find report cards online at healthcarereportcard.illinois.gov,” says Dr. David Ansell, chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center. “But it’s just a starting point. You can’t always judge a book by its cover, or a hospital by its report card.”

Keep in mind that report cards don’t tell the whole story.
“Report cards and rankings by U.S. News and World Report aren’t always terribly helpful,” says Dr. Matthew Sorrentino, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. “The best hospitals often have poor statistics because they are referred the sickest patients. University hospitals often have highest rates of death because the sickest patients go there.”

Liking your doctor is more important than liking the hospital.
If you like a doctor, but the hospital he or she practices at doesn’t have the best report card, don’t worry. “The physician is the most important key,” says Sorrentino. “If he or she has a good staff and good team, that doctor may have excellent outcomes.” To find a doctor, look at “How to Find the Best Doctor for You”.

Make sure the hospital performs your procedure often.
You wouldn’t go to a muffler repairman for a tire change, so don’t go to a hospital that doesn’t specialize in your procedure. “If you’re having a baby, make sure they do a lot of deliveries,” Ansell says. “If they deliver less than 1,000 per year, it’s not enough. Check out their C-section rates or how long they tolerate women in being in labor.”

One more tip (although clearly not the most important). Make sure the cafeteria food is something your friends and family can tolerate!