NEW YORK (NBC) - How safe is the hospital you may have to visit during an emergency? A study by Healthgrades measures hospital safety with a five star system.
Sometimes, which hospital you choose may mean the difference between life and death.
The Healthgrades website has a comprehensive list of hospital data. It rates 4,500 hospitals with a close look at patient survival rates, listing hospitals that provide the best care for heart attacks, pneumonia and other illnesses.
It's easy to find a hospital's ranking. Get the latest details on local hospitals.
"And so, doing that research in advance... and knowing where you're going to get your care really does mean the difference between life and death," explains Dr. Archelle Georgiou, Healthgrades advisor.
Dr. Georgiou is an expert advisor to Healthgrades. She says if you're treated at a 5-star hospital, you have a 75 percent lower chance of death, and a 61 percent lower rate of complications than at a 1-star hospital.
"What was surprising to us - and pretty disappointing - was that people spend more time researching the next refrigerator they're going to buy or their mobile phone plan than they spend researching the doctor or hospital that's going to provide care," states Dr. Georgiou.
But the chief of staff for Alvarado Hospital says the data doesn't always tell the story.
"The problem with some of these things like HealthGrades and other ratings services is they often use...we'd call it hearsay or case report data, and it's not necessarily statistically valid," argues Dr. Ted Mazer.