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What Do You Know About Your Hospital? Arm Yourself to Make an Informed Decision

Most people comparison shop when it comes to car insurance, homeowners insurance or even where the best weekly deals are to buy groceries. But how many comparison shop as carefully when it comes to choosing a doctor or a hospital?

A surgeon at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore recently released a book that is a tell-all of sorts on what hospitals do not disclose to their patients. Dr. Marty Makary, a patient safety advocate and researcher, believes that the more transparency involved in health care, the better off patients and doctors will be.

In a recent interview with USA Today, Dr. Makary revealed a number of things that will likely surprise most patients. Three of these include:

First, most hospitals do not disclose their "bounce-back rates." Do you have any idea the complication rates, re-admission rates and rates of infection that occur at your local hospital? Without key information such as this and whether industry best practices are generally implemented, it is difficult for consumer/patients to make informed decisions. Yet for many, they spend much more on health care then they do on car insurance.

Second, while hospital errors and medical mistakes happen, there are doctors out there who they happen to much more often - and who probably shouldn't be practicing. Yet, even though other doctors know and recognize these professionals, they don't turn them in. This goes to show what a closed-door culture the medical profession has. But Makary noted that this is started to change with the newest generation of doctors.

Third, patients need to realize that just because technology has advanced and there are a lot of tools at the disposal of doctors, it does not mean that all doctors have been quick to adopt such advances. Doctors are trained early in their careers, and for most there are no systems in place to retrain as technology changes and skills become more advanced.

While these are not all of the items Makary discussed, they are particularly interesting and a bit alarming when it comes to patient safety. The next time you are choosing a doctor or hospital, keep these points in mind and ask for more information so that you can truly make an informed decision when it comes to your health and medical care.

Source: USA Today, "Hospitals 'Unaccountable,' says surgeon in new book," 9/18/12.

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