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Going into a hospital is daunting task. Be it the patient or the attender with the patient. It is an overwhelming and frightening experience to hand goes under the care of unknown persons .

But if you are familiar with the surroundings of the hospital and its staff the experience becomes less frightening.

The hospitals run on team work and skill. They follow number of procedures to prevent medical errors. As is the case with The Sentara Heart Hospital, a 112-bed facility on the campus of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Va. Sentara is also on the leading edge of a burgeoning hospital safety and quality movement.

The patients name is asked an up- teemed number of times before being wheeled into the operation theatre. This demonstrated the hospital's safety focus, helping to prevent such medical errors as performing the wrong procedure (or performing it on the wrong side of the body) or giving a medication to the wrong patient. In a facility that faithfully follows guidelines issued by the Joint Commission, the hospital accrediting body, the number of people who go through the name/birth date/surgery drill during your stay will seem comical at best and annoying at worst.

Many a times people believe that a higher price usually signals better quality. But it is not true Paying more doesn't always yield better care. Earlier, patients could not compare what they and their insurers paid hospitals against how well those hospitals performed.

Recently Pennsylvania issued its latest report showing how much surgeons and hospitals earned on each surgery. The report showed how much the insurer or medicare paid the hospital.

Pennsylvania surveyed 60 hospitals that performed heart bypass surgery. It found the best-paid hospital received about $97,000 on average, compared to about $18,000 on average for the lowest-paid. Nothing substantial was achieved by the patient paying more. In f act, the Patients in both had comparable lengths of stay and death rates.

This report was controversial as many believed that treatment in different hospitals cannot be compared. Hospitals aren't all created equal, nor are surgeons -- or patients. A patient may do better or not so well, depending not only on the surgeon's skill, but the patient's underlying physical condition before the surgery, and many other factors. There is, and should be, a lot of leeway for doctors and hospitals to make decisions based on personal needs of individual patients.

For too long, hospitals, insurance companies, doctors and others made the self-serving argument that such information was too complicated for the average person to understand. They're wrong. People need information to make smart choices about medical care. They need to know that paying more doesn't ensure better results. And undergoing more procedures and tests doesn't necessarily translate into better care. The rising cost of medical care in the US has resulted in patient seeking treatment in other countries where the costs are much cheaper. America's medical tourists save thousands of dollars by heading overseas for their health care.

Medical tourism is alive and well, experts say, with health care consumers scanning the globe for the best deals in everything from back surgery to angioplasty.

Cost is the primary motive for many Americans who travel abroad for care, usually because they lack health insurance coverage for their chosen procedure.

AN estimated 150,000 Americans travel abroad for medical care. Most go for cosmetic surgery or dental work. About 70,000 people travel each year for everything from orthopedic work to major heart surgery.

One measure of the trend is the growing number of overseas hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission International, a branch of the organization that accredits U.S. hospitals. International medical ce nters can charge less, because of dramatically lower costs of labor, malpractice insurance and overhead related to health insurance paperwork.


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