Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'




AARP Real Possibilities
Car buying made easy with the AARP Auto Buying Program


Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 


ATM Mobile App for iPhone and Ipad

Enjoy the best of AARP’s award-winning publications

on the go with the new

AARP ePubs iPad App


AARP Games - Play Now!


Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.


Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.



Heart Disease


Most Popular



share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

Ask Sid

How Can I Find a Good Hospital?

Check websites that pool information on success rates and care

Q. I need to be hospitalized. How should I decide on the best facility for my needs?

A. Many patients rely solely on their doctor's recommendation, and while that's a good starting point, there are other factors to consider.

See also: Know all your treatment options.

You'll want to know if a facility has experience and a high success rate for your condition or procedure; whether it's accredited by the Joint Commission; and, of course, whether it's covered by your health plan.

You can get some answers by calling different facilities yourself. You might also get recommendations from the local chapters of condition-centric groups such as the American Cancer Society or American Heart Association.

But perhaps the best info can be gleaned by checking these four websites:

  • Hospital Compare, operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, lets you search for facilities based on your medical condition or surgical procedure. It includes survey results from patients on their quality of care, and information from hospitals that have submitted information on care quality. (If a local hospital is not there, it either means it did not submit the information or did not agree to make the information public.)
  • HealthGrades gives information and ratings on 5,000 hospitals and 750,000 doctors, pooled from dozens of sources, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. You can search by state or city and then by specialty. In the hospital rating area, you can check on such things as awards and patient survival rates.
  • is the website of the Joint Commission, which awards accreditations and certifications to hospitals. To receive these accolades, hospitals must voluntarily seek them out and meet specific criteria. The Joint Commission makes periodic checks to ensure quality is maintained. Its website lists facilities it has accredited and certified, searchable by name, ZIP or city, and type of service or provider.
  • Healthcare Reviews lists anonymous postings from patients about their experiences with certain doctors or hospitals. Expect strong feelings ­ — good or bad — from people who took the time to post their reviews.

You may also like: Tips to avoid a return trip to the hospital. >>

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Health blog

Discounts & Benefits

bring health To Life-Visual MD

AARP Bookstore

AARP Bookstore - woman reaches for book on bookshelf


Find titles on brain health, drug alternatives and losing weight. Do