Well, the ambulance driver may make a better choice than grandma will. Choosing a hospital may seal the fate of a person dealing with an emergent health issue. A recent article in the New York Times notes that inadvertently choosing the wrong hospital can increase your risk of dying by 3-fold and your chance of avoidable complication by 13 times! [New York Times Dec 14, 2016; PLoS One Dec 14, 2016] Generally high-volume hospitals deliver better care.
Hey, hospitals could, on their own, start publishing data, like infection rates. But they aren’t. Hospitals will have to be forced to disclose their data publically.
Recognize, hospitals take confused elderly patients, vaccinate the patient against pneumonia upon admission, which exposes a presumably immune-compromised patient to a deadly bacterium, then puts the patient under anesthesia so the lungs don’t expand sufficiently, and what do you get? A case of hospital acquired pneumonia.
Many older hospitalized patients awake from anesthesia in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar hospital room with the lights off and they don’t know where the nurse put their eyeglasses. They get up to go to the bathroom, fall and break their hip, and the hospital gets another $30,000 of business to surgically fix a hip fracture.
Hospitals have infection control officers. Not one of them notices infection rates among the hospitalized increase during winter months. I’ve written that hospitals should obtain vitamin D blood levels upon admission. Provision of vitamin D shortens the duration of a hospital stay. [Bill Sardi Blog]
Hospitals are built for doctors as giant insurance collection institutions. They aren’t built for patients. Sleep deprivation is what you get when hospitalized. You have to get discharged to catch up on your sleep. Sleep deprivation increases the risk for infection.
Older patients entering the hospital really need a savvy advocate.
Now what happens when hospital acquired infection rates are published? When death rates are disclosed? When medical errors are tabulated and revealed? The patients will predictably run to another high volume hospital and low-volume hospitals will have to close their doors.
Ask any doctor questions about a disease and you get a lengthy answer. Ask a doctor how to stay healthy and that frankly is outside their realm of experience. They have to know that personally.