Here's the fourth in our occasional series of newsletters on getting better medical care for yourself and your family.
Today, we're discussing hospitals -- how to find the right one for you or a family member. It's not easy, but I have good practical advice for you.
The springboard for my report is a new study about the U.S. News & World Report hospital rankings. I wrote a "blog" in my Patient Safety Blog
about this study, and here's part of what I said:
When you walk into the lobby of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore,
you can't help but notice all the signs informing you that Hopkins is
ranked No. 1 hospital in the United States by U.S. News & World
Report. Hopkins is justifiably proud of reaching that top spot year
after year, but does it mean anything for patient safety and quality of
A new study in Annals of Internal Medicine finds that for the 50 top-ranked hospitals,
there is little correlation between their U.S. News rank and any
objective measures of quality of care. But when the authors crunched the
numbers, they found the hospital's subjective reputation among doctors
accounted for 90 to 100 percent of the hospital's overall U.S. News
ranking. In other words, the word of mouth reputation of the hospital
among doctors -- not among patients -- counts for a huge amount of the
news magazine's popular ratings system.
(Read more on the blog here.)
So what's a patient to do? Read the articles below for some good tips.
Past issues of this newsletter:
Our first newsletter focused on the problem of conflicts of interest in medicine -- what you need to know in general, and how to find out if your doctor has a conflict that might affect the quality of your care. Click here
to see that newsletter again.
Newsletter No. 2 expanded the discussion into the related topic of why experience counts -- especially when choosing a surgeon. We focused on the story of minimally invasive prostate surgery with the device called the da Vinci robot. We explained how the lessons apply to any kind of surgery or medical procedure. To see newsletter No. 2 again, click here
Newsletter No. 3 talked about why "more is not always better" in modern medicine. We focused on cancer screening, especially for breast and prostate cancer, and why you can feel not so guilty if you're a little less aggressive about getting the test. (But if you have any symptoms, you shouldn't wait!) Click here
to read it again.
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