Paramedic Bruno Fernandini prepares a room at the University of Miami Hospital's… (Joe Raedle, Getty Images )
Using data from government agencies and private watchdogs, several websites provide consumer information on hospitals.
CalHospitalCompare.org (www.calhospitalcompare.org) enables you to compare selected hospitals on dozens of measures, including infection prevention, intensive care mortality rate and overall patient experience. The site, run by the California HealthCare Foundation, offers the option of searching by hospital name, location or medical condition.
Hospital Compare (www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services looks at facilities nationwide. You can compare up to three hospitals side by side or compare a hospital's track record with state and national averages. You also can narrow your search to facilities offering particular surgical procedures.
The Leapfrog Group (www.leapfroggroup.org/cp), an employer coalition that promotes hospital safety and quality, annually surveys hospitals on safety, quality and cost measures. Participation is voluntary, so not all hospitals are included.
Quality Check (www.qualitycheck.org), a site operated by the accrediting organization known as the Joint Commission, offers ratings of hospitals as well as nursing homes, home care providers and laboratories.
The Medicare site has a feature (www.medicare.gov/Dialysis) that can help compare kidney dialysis centers in your area. For each facility, the site details the services offered and provides data on effectiveness and patient survival.