4 tips for choosing the best hospital for your child

Choosing the right hospital for your child’s care is not an easy decision – but it’s one that makes all the difference, as discussed recently in an article in The New York Times. As the article points out, “higher quality can make a difference in survival rates.” The article is based on a study by the National Bureau of of Economic Research. How can you ensure you’re at the right hospital? Here are some helpful tips from Le Bonheur’s Pediatrician-in-Chief Jon McCullers, MD.elsiewithbadge

  1. Research a hospital’s quality scores and outcomes for your child’s procedure. Check to see if the hospital reports any outcome information on its website. Look to outside sources, too, (like The Leapfrog Group) that compare quality rates among hospitals. Another example is The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. The organization compiles data from pediatric heart programs across the country and publishes surgical outcome information twice a year. What are some quality indicators? Look for low readmission and infection rates, as well as lower-than-average mortality rates for your child’s procedure.
  2. Review patient satisfaction scores. Though not clear proof of a quality hospital, research shows hospitals with high patient satisfaction scores tend to also provide higher quality care.
  3. Look for third party validation. Does the program rank on S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals list? Has the hospital received Magnet designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, one of the ultimate credentials for high quality care?
  4. Ask a trusted physician where he or she would go for her child’s care. As the NYT article states, “doctors are more attuned to clinical quality than patients can be.” And don’t hesitate to “interview” your child’s physician. Ask the surgeon what his outcomes are, for instance.