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The United States has many types of hospitals–voluntary, public, private, for-profit, not-for-profit, specialty. Hospitals are at the center of the health care crisis in America today. The costs of running and maintaining hospitals are climbing at a rate much higher than inflation.

Teaching hospitals, which are associated with major medical schools, have the highest stature. As with most American institutions, though, quality of care varies a great deal, often depending on the nurses, doctors and other personnel involved.

Learn as Much as You Can. If you or anyone you care about has to be hospitalized in America, it is important that you learn as much as possible about the hospital and the care- givers. No matter what anyone says, you must demand a full accounting of every procedure that affects you or your loved one. Hospitals can be very dangerous places. Serious infections are common. Overworked personnel make mistakes, and can be insensitive to the patients’ needs

Understand the Financial Aspects. It is equally important to fully understand how the hospital works financially: how much you will be charged and for what services. Before running up bills, get a good understanding of how much your insurance pays. If the hospital personnel seem too busy to give you the information, insist on your rights. Make sure everything is understood before treatment begins.

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