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Angioplasty & Stents - Choosing a Hospital & Doctor

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Angioplasty & Stents
Angioplasty vs. Clot Busters
Angioplasty After Clot Busters
Other Devices
Artery Re-narrowing
Angioplasty for Mild Heart Attack
Choosing a Hospital & Doctor
The Angioplasty Procedure

How do I choose a hospital or doctor?

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) surveys hospitals and other care facilities to determine whether they meet the quality standards for accreditation. You can look up a hospital's accreditation status at http://www.qualitycheck.org/.

An important aspect of choosing a hospital and doctor for angioplasty is how often your particular procedure is done. Although hospitals that perform certain procedures more often have better outcomes, there is a wide range of variability. If possible, you should try to find out not just the number, but also the outcomes (the percentage of patients who died or experienced complications) for the angioplasties performed at the hospital you are considering. Even more important than the number of procedures the hospital performs is how many your doctor performed. You should look for a hospital that performs at least 200 angioplasties, and a doctor who performs at least 75, annually. The hospital should also have cardiac surgery facilities in the event of complications. Angioplasty itself is not a surgical procedure (your chest is not cut open); however, a small number of patients treated with angioplasty develop complications that require immediate bypass surgery.

You should talk to the doctor who referred you for angioplasty about your options in choosing an interventional cardiologist and hospital. Your choice of hospital is greatly influenced by your choice of physician, as most doctors are affiliated with one or two hospitals to which they typically admit patients. Also be sure to check with your health plan to see which hospitals and physicians are covered.
Obviously, you will have little or no choice in hospital or physician in an emergency situation such as during a heart attack. However, if you have already had a heart attack, or know that you are at risk, you should keep the address of the nearest hospital with emergency cardiac care facilities readily available. People who would especially benefit from angioplasty rather than clot busters (high-risk patients, for example) may be taken directly to a hospital capable of emergency angioplasty rather than to the nearest hospital.

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