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Choosing the right doctor and hospital

Finding the Right Hospital

The quality of the care you receive depends on more than just your surgeon's skills. There are many other health care providers directly involved in your care.

The work of all staff at a hospital contributes to how well the hospital is run. This affects your safety and the quality of care you will receive.

High-quality measures

Hospitals are asked to report quality measures. These measures report on different events that affect patient care. Some common measures include:

  • Patient injuries, such as falls
  • Patients receiving the wrong medicine or wrong dosage of a medicine
  • Complications, such as infections, blood clots, or skin ulcers
  • Whether patients receive antibiotics prior to surgical procedures

Hospitals receive scores for their quality report cards. These scores can give you an idea about how your hospital compares with others.

Find out if your hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission (a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the quality and safety of health care). Also see if your hospital is rated highly by state, consumer, or other groups. Places to look for hospital ratings are:

  • States require hospitals to report data to them, and some publish reports that compare hospitals in the state.
  • Nonprofit groups in some areas or states work with businesses, doctors, and hospitals to gather information about quality.
  • The federal government gathers and reports information about hospitals -- www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html.
  • Your health insurance company may rate the joint replacement programs at different hospitals. Ask your insurance company if it does.

Choosing the best hospital for you

There are many things a hospital can offer to improve your quality of care when you have a hip replacement. Find out if your hospital has the following:

  • A hospital floor or unit that does only orthopedic surgery, or a floor or unit that is used only for joint replacement surgeries.
  • Operating rooms used only for orthopedic surgery and joint replacement.
  • Specific guidelines so that everyone who has hip replacement surgery receives the type of care they need.
  • Enough nurses.

It can also be helpful to know how many hip replacements are done at the hospital you have chosen. People who have surgery at hospitals that do more of the same type of procedure often do better.

If you are having a newer hip replacement techniques, find out how many of them the hospital has already done.

Finding the Right Doctor

Ways to check on the skills, knowledge, and quality of care

Perhaps a friend gave you the name of a doctor who does hip replacement surgery. Or you found a name on a website. Your local hospital or primary care provider may also have recommended an orthopedic surgeon.

Recommendations from friends or your provider are important. But there are other ways to check on the skills, knowledge, and quality of care different doctors provide.

Different websites, consumer groups, and other organizations provide information about doctors and the quality of their care. While these rating tools can be helpful, find out if they are reliable before using them to make a decision.

Is your doctor board certified?

"Board-certified" means that the doctor has completed a training program in a specialty. Orthopedics is a sub-specialty. A doctor will receive 4 to 5 years (sometimes more) of extra training in their specialty after they are done with medical school.

To become certified, the doctor must pass an exam (board) to assess his or her knowledge, skills, and experience in that specialty. Orthopedic surgeons are certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery.

Is your doctor experienced?

Hip replacement surgeries are very technical. Ask your doctor how many hip replacement surgeries they have done and how long they have been practicing. Make sure your surgeon has received special training in any newer procedures, if that is what you are scheduled for. Some of the newer techniques can require special skills or training.

To do any surgery at a hospital, a surgeon must be credentialed. This means that the hospital has made sure the surgeon is trained and has the experience needed to perform the surgery.

You may also ask your doctor how often patients have or need the following:

  • Reoperation after hip replacement or dislocations
  • Ongoing pain
  • Problems with wounds
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Review Date: 12/31/2018

Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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