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Some tips to get the best health care

AZ Daily Star

Published: 06.22.2008

Some tips to get the best health care

By Marshall Loeb

MARKETWATCH

The health-care system today is increasingly complex. If you’ve recently been treated for a serious illness or have had a family member go to the hospital, you may have seen this firsthand. Everyone wants the best care possible, but finding it can be another matter. Consider these four pointers from Consumer Reports on how to receive the best medical care:

1. Know your hospital. It pays to know what type of care to expect from hospitals in your area. Some are better than others at managing long-term conditions in a way that prevents the need for frequent hospitalizations and specialist visits, and the accompanying risks of infections and medical errors. To find out where your hospital stands, check www.consumer reportshealth.org or a Web site that compiles Medicare survey results, www.hospitalcompare .hhs.gov.

2. Ask about pros and cons. Just because a test or treatment can be done doesn’t mean it should be done. “Every intervention can create complications,” says Dr. Donald Berwick, president and CEO of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement. So ask your doctor questions.

3. Push for coordination. Having many doctors involved in your care can lead to confusion and miscommunication. To solve this problem, develop a good long-term relationship with a primary-care physician. When medical problems arise, ask this doctor or your main specialist to coordinate all of your treatment.

4. Mind the transitions. Many errors occur during transfers in the hospital, or to home, a rehab center or nursing home. Do not assume your primary-care doctor knows you have entered or left the hospital. Make a call yourself if necessary, and be sure to fill out forms authorizing the hospital to send your doctor the records of your stay.

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