Harvard Heart Letter

How good is your hospital?

Databases help take the guesswork out of choosing a hospital.

Sooner or later, most of us spend some time in a hospital. In an emergency, you don't have much choice, but instead rush to the closest one. For an episode of worsening heart failure or a planned procedure like bypass surgery, however, you may have your pick of hospitals. Choosing among them isn't the most straightforward task.

If your city is anything like Boston, the Heart Letter's home base, local hospitals advertise on television and radio, in newspapers, and even on buses and trains. The ads tell you what services the hospitals offer but not how good they are. Finding that out takes detective work. Ask your doctor and your family and friends. Checking a hospital quality databases helps take some of the guesswork out of the process.

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