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Choosing the Best Hospital

Inova experts urge patients to look at markers of success and safety 

best hospital

It’s not always possible — such as in an emergency — to handpick where you’ll receive medical care. But if you’re undergoing elective surgery or other treatment, key indicators of a hospital’s track record can reliably steer you to a place that has been shown to provide the best results.

A bevy of national accolades and accreditations points to Inova’s superior patient outcomes. All of Inova’s hospitals, for example, have earned a grade “A” for safety by The Leapfrog Group, a national organization using 28 measures to assign grades to about 2,600 hospitals across the United States.

Inova Fair Oaks (IFOH) and Inova Loudoun (ILH) hospitals stand out in many additional ways, perhaps most notably by earning Center of Excellence designations in stroke care, hip and knee replacement and spine surgery. Bestowing these honors is The Joint Commission — the country’s oldest and largest standards-setting organization in healthcare — following rigorous evaluations, inspections and interviews. 

IFOH is also an accredited Comprehensive Center for bariatric surgery under the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP®).

“When researching hospitals, be sure to look for Joint Commission-designated Centers of Excellence,” comments Donald Brideau, MD, President of IFOH. “This designation proves that the hospital’s quality and safety outcomes are better. A Center of Excellence is designed to provide the greatest level of care for that service.”

“The designation process is rigorous and thorough,” states Christopher Chiantella, MD, Chief Medical Officer at ILH. “It is confirmation that the programs are providing patients with excellent quality of care.”             

Reassuring evidence for top hospitals in Virginia

“In addition to patient outcomes, patient instruction and education also contributes to the success of a program,” says Rachna Krishnan, Growth Officer at ILH.

“To become a Joint Commission Center of Excellence, the hospital often has additional requirements,” Krishnan explains. “Patient education both before and after surgery is imperative so they know what to expect and can take better care to help themselves heal and recover. This ultimately leads to better outcomes.”

Community members — particularly those planning to undergo elective surgery — can use a Center of Excellence or other national achievement to help with their decision-making when shopping for the best hospital for them. Chris Silveri, MD, Co-Chair of Inova Spine Institute at IFOH, advises prospective patients to look critically at any facility describing itself as a spine center.

“We haven’t just named our spine program as part of a spine Center of Excellence. We’ve been able to prove to The Joint Commission that we have, in fact, achieved the level of excellence in cervical and lumbar spine surgery,” he says. “IFOH is the only hospital in the area to have 10 years of continuous, successful designations by the Joint Commission for this.”

Dr. Silveri’s colleague, Donald Hope, MD, also Co-Chair of the Inova Spine Institute, said patients can gain reassurance from such a national honor.

“Certainly, a Center of Excellence is really a report card or a certification based on a proven process that has been shown to work,” Dr. Hope says. “It’s considerably safer for patients to have procedures at a hospital that has received these awards.”

Proactive patients are key in hospital decision-making

When choosing a hospital, patients have two options. They can first choose a doctor to perform their procedure and then ask where that doctor performs surgeries, or they can first choose the hospital for their procedure and then select a doctor that performs their procedures there. Patients have the right to request a specific facility for their surgery, since many doctors have privileges at multiple hospitals. It is also important to speak with your insurance company to determine your medical coverage for a specific doctor or facility.

“It’s most important that the patient is an active participant in the process,” Dr. Chiantella says. “If you’re having an elective procedure, make sure you’re heavily engaged in your own care and that you have a great support system.”

Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before Surgery

When shopping for a surgeon, it’s especially crucial to determine their expertise and safety record. Inova doctors suggest asking the following:

  • How many of these surgeries have you performed over the past year? Past five years? Look for a surgeon who handles a high volume of the same procedure.
  • What are your complication rates for this surgery? What are the most frequent complications your surgical patients experience?
  • What can I expect as my outcome? How do you envision my recovery?
  • Where do you perform your surgeries?

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