When choosing a hospital, no single source gives a perfect measure of quality. However, combining information from several sources (listed below) can help you make an informed decision.
Referrals from trusted sources, such as your primary care physician, family, friends or other breast cancer survivors, are often the best way to find a good hospital.
Visiting a hospital before treatment begins lets you get a feel for the facility. Is the staff nice and helpful? Is the building well kept? Are the waiting areas, restrooms and lobby clean? These factors can be important in your decision-making.
Visiting a site beforehand also helps you learn how easy it is to get to and from your home. You can also find out what lodging is available.
A number of organizations in the United States monitor the quality of medical centers. Their ratings can be a good sign of the quality of care given by a center.
The Joint Commission. The Joint Commission conducts site visits and audits of hospitals and surgery centers to check the quality of their care. It gives ratings based on performance. To find a healthcare organization that meets safety and quality standards, visit The Joint Commission's website or call (630) 792-5800.
Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. The Commission on Cancer evaluates hospital cancer programs against a set of quality standards, similar to the Joint Commission. To search for an accredited cancer program near you, visit the American College of Surgeon’s website.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA, through the Mammography Quality Standards Act, oversees the licensing of mammography centers. A list of centers meeting the FDA's quality standards is available online or by calling the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service at (800) 4-CANCER.
Each year, the FDA produces a Mammography Facility Adverse Event Report, detailing any actions taken against specific mammography centers.
Publications that rate the "best" hospitals can be a good resource. For example, US News & World Report publishes “America's Best Hospitals” each year (view their most recent hospital honor roll). While such publications are often based on extensive research and are useful guides, they should not be the sole basis for choosing a hospital.