All hospitals have to pass certain standards to be approved in California. Even so, not all hospitals provide high-quality care, and some are better than others on different aspects of quality. But as a patient or a family member, there is a lot you can do to make sure that you or your loved one is getting the best possible care. The key to getting the quality you deserve is information. Here’s how to get what you need.
If You Have a Choice of Hospitals
Learn how to choose a hospital. Read the information on CalHospitalCompare.org to help you select the best hospital for your treatment.
Compare hospitals. Look up hospitals on CalHospitalCompare.org to see the strengths and weaknesses of your options.
Whether or Not You Have a Choice of Hospitals
Learn what to expect in the hospital. See how to prepare for your hospital stay.
Ask questions. Understanding your treatment is important. Some people don’t like to ask doctors too many questions. But if you understand the details, you will be better prepared to handle issues in the hospital. Take your time when talking with your doctors and ask them to slow down if they are going too fast. Any time you need to make a decision, ask about all treatment options.
Use the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)’s question builder, which allows you to create a customized list of relevant questions to take to your next medical appointment.
Be part of the solution. Hospitals are not perfect; you can help them improve. Here are a few ways you can make a difference:
- If your insurance plan or doctor requires that you go to a hospital that ranks low on a particular measure that could affect your care, print out the ratings from CalHospitalCompare.org and discuss them with the hospital quality director. Ask how the hospital is trying to improve this measure, and say you’ll be watching out for these things.
- Answer patient surveys whenever possible — the ratings on CalHospitalCompare.org combine clinical data with feedback from patients like you.
Learn more. Read about health care quality so you can get comfortable with the issues and terms:
- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Run by the federal government, this site has data on death rates and quality of care.
- The Leapfrog Group: This nonprofit organization provides data on patient safety.
- Quality Check: Run by the independent nonprofit The Joint Commission, this site provides quality of care data.
- Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ) glossary of terms
- Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) glossary
- US Hospital Compare. Run by the federal Medicare program, this site is nationwide.