Study: Physicians choose one-third of hospitals

A new survey suggests that while consumers are sometimes involved, physicians still have a substantial influence when it's time to choose a hospital. The study, which appears this month in the Archives of Surgery, looked at 500 randomly selected Medicare patients, averaging 78 years old, who had had repair of an abdominal aneurysm, heart valve replacement or cancers of lung, stomach and bladder. Upon analyzing the data, researchers found that doctors were the picked the hospital for one-third of these patients. Forty-two percent of patients chose the hospital in consultation with the doctor--a substantial share, probably arising from to the new industry emphasis on consumer choice--and 27 percent said that they or their families had made the selection. All told, more than half of the patients had sought information from external sources in addition to their doctor. The study also found that gender and health had a impact on who would choose the hospital, with men and those in fair to poor health being more likely to defer to the doctor when it was time to choose.

To get more background on the study:
- read this piece from The Washington Post