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Getting the best health care for you

The health-care system today is increasingly complex. Finding the best care possible can be difficult.

From Consumer Reports Magazine, consider these four pointers on how to receive the best medical care:

Know your hospital. Some are better than others at managing long-term conditions to prevent the need for frequent hospitalizations and specialist visits, and the accompanying risks of infections and medical errors. To find out where your hospital stands, check www.consumerreportshealth.org.

Ask about pros and cons. Just because a test or treatment can be done doesn't mean it should be done. ”Every intervention can create complications,“ says Dr. Donald Berwick, president and chief executive of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement. So ask your doctor questions.

Push for coordination. Having many doctors involved in your care can lead to confusion and miscommunication. To solve this problem, develop a good long-term relationship with a primary-care physician to coordinate treatment.

Mind the transitions. Many errors occur during transfers in the hospital, or to home, a rehab center or a nursing home. Do not assume that your primary-care doctor knows that you have entered or left the hospital. Make a call yourself if necessary, and be sure to fill out forms authorizing the hospital to send your doctor records of your stay.

Marshall Loeb, Marketwatch

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