The Hospital's Finances
First, with regard to financial considerations, it is simple common sense. Some hospitals seem to have the money they need to carry out their day-to-day operations, while others are consistently broke. Whether that is the result of government cutbacks, poor planning, negligence, or outright theft, management cannot effectively run any organization that is chronically on the verge of bankruptcy. You can count on the management of such impoverished institutions to do something stupid and dangerous like justifying precariously low staffing levels for the sake of institutional survival. Thus the first item you should ask for when visiting your community hospital is a copy of the annual report.
If the hospital does not publish one, it is usually required to file one with the state authorities. In most states, it is the department of health. You can log on to your state's website for details. Everyone who is going to use a hospital has a right to know its financial condition. Some of the better hospitals have websites that will tell you where to get a copy of their annual report. Another way to investigate your hospital's fiscal state of affairs is to check its credit rating. If you find that your hospital cannot pay its bills on time and has had to layoff its employees to reduce the payroll, find another facility. If the next one is too far away, proceed with caution and know that you can learn how to be in control of your safety (that's the purpose of this book).