Patient Satisfaction Surveys
If you have a routine condition and several hospitals from which to choose, there are factors other than competence that you might consider. Hospitals that are truly committed to their patients want feedback on the quality of care they provide. They use this feedback to improve their service. Hospitals that do not survey their patients are very confident that their care is excellent, cannot respond to feedback, or do not see the patient's perspective as important. Call the hospital marketing or public relations department to see if they survey patient satisfaction. They probably won't share the results with you, but just making the effort to ask people's opinion says a lot about the hospital's commitment to its patients.
People You Know
If you have more than one hospital in your area, ask your friends, family, and coworkers about their experiences. Trying to decide where to deliver your baby? Women with children are usually more than happy to give you the pros and cons of their childbirth experiences at the hospital.
If you can find someone who works at the hospital, ask her what she thinks of the department or clinic where you will receive care. The quality of different departments can vary substantially. Insiders often know which departments are good and which are bad. Insider information is almost always the best and fastest way to estimate the quality of the care you will receive.
Local Hospital Organizations
These exist in almost every state. These serve primarily as trade organizations for hospitals. Sometimes they will have public information, so it is worth a call.