Picking a hospital, nursing home

It’s often difficult for a consumer to assess the quality of a hospital. You have to go beyond the hospital’s brochures (and the curb appeal) to get information about what kind of care you or your loved one will receive there.

Besides word of mouth, proximity to home and a doctor’s recommendation, there are a few websites  that can help you.

Start with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’  “Hospital Compare’’ website. Hospitals supply data on the care they deliver for heart attacks, heart failure, childhood asthma, pneumonia and preventing surgical infections. Hospital Compare also includes patient satisfaction scores for hospitals, along with readmission rates. The Association of Health Care Journalists’ tip sheet on hospital quality points out that most hospitals perform within expected ranges, so the information may not tell you much. Still, it’s worth checking out.

You may want to try other sources of information on the quality of Georgia hospitals. One is run by the Georgia Hospital Association.

And there’s also information about hospital inspection reports by the state, which can give you information about quality problems a hospital has experienced.  Here’s the link.

This government site also has information about inspections of personal care homes and nursing homes in Georgia.

To assess the quality of nursing homes, you can turn to a useful federal Website called Nursing Home Compare.  It has an easy-to-understand star rating system for nursing homes in your area. Inspectors examine all major aspects of care in a nursing home; the site looks at staffing and how well the facility prevents skin ulcers, etc.  Here’s where you go.

The Georgia long-term care ombudsman office has a helpful list of resources for you and your family. Its website also refers you to a State Bar guide on nursing homes that urges you to visit the facility you’re considering and talk to residents there about the care. Here it is.

A government website, Georgiahealthinfo.gov, also has background information on long-term care decisions for families.