Comparing Hospitals: Which one is best for you?
I get this question from friends and acquaintances all the time. People know I represent the victims of medical negligence in the western half of Virginia and want to know which hospital is best. The question is not an easy one to answer because it depends on the reason for your hospitalization. One hospital may have the best cardiac surgeons working at that facility but provides poor vascular surgery care or has a lousy gastroenterology department.
Which hospital is best for you primarily depends on which doctors have staff privileges at which hospitals. However, a new service provided by Medicare provides some helpful information. The program is called “Hospital Compare” and allows you to list up to three separate hospitals and compare one to the other on certain metrics. It also provides statewide and national averages for those same metrics. For example, on average a patient with a broken bone can expect to be seen by a healthcare provider in the Emergency Department at Lewis-Gale Medical Center (Salem, VA), and provided with pain medication, within 19 minutes after arrival. For Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital that time is 68 minutes. If you are in Blacksburg or the New River Valley, you can expect to be seen and provided with pain medication at the Lewis-Gale Montgomery Hospital Emergency Department in Blacksburg, VA within 20 minutes.
As for “serious surgical complications,” Hospital Compare does not give numbers or percentages but provides a comparison to the national rate for serious surgical complications of less than 1%. Lewis-Gale Medical Center and Lewis-Gale Montgomery Hospital are equal to the national rate for serious surgical complication. Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, on the other hand, experiences serious surgical complications at a rate higher than the national rate.
My Take: Using Hospital Compare is just one additional tool to use in getting good medical care.