Hospitals in the United States

Legal Materials

Here are some resources for doing basic research on hospitals:

A. The Internet Hospital Directory posts an extensive list of links to U.S. and foreign hospital Web sites. The Find Healthcare Center database provides U.S. hospital names, address, phone numbers and links to the hospital’s web site.

B. A number of websites provide rankings of the best hospitals, including U.S. News and World Report, Consumer Reports, Healthgrades, and The Leapfrog Group. You might also want to try the “top” hospital search on the Castle Connolly Web site.

C. You can compare hospitals based on patient satisfaction surveys using Hospital Compare, a joint project of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services.

C. Some state and local government agencies post data on hospitals, such as the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation’s HHC In Focus and the Maryland Health Care Commission’s Hospital Guide.

D. Tax-exempt hospitals have to file Form 990s with the IRS. You can get copies using the databases listed in the “Tax Returns” section of the Tax-Exempt Organizations entry on this legal Encyclopedia.

E. The Mergent Municipal and Government Manual gives a financial profile of many public hospitals.

Following are some special related topics:

Accreditation: Accreditation standards for U.S. hospitals are published in theComprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals (formerly AMH: Accreditation Manual for Hospitals) by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). JCAHO also publishes the Medical Staff Handbook: A Guide to Joint Commission Standards.

Canon Law: The Hospital Contracts Manual includes chapters discussing the effect of religious law and church organization on doing business with Catholic and Protestant health care organizations.

Forms: Many of the most common forms used by hospitals are included and discussed in the Hospital Contracts Manual (Aspen).

Healthcare Integrity Data Bank: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains the “Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank” (HIPDB) as part of “a national health care fraud and abuse data collection program for reporting and disclosing certain final adverse actions taken against health care providers, suppliers, or practitioners.” If you can get access to the HIPDB, you can see if the hospital has been successfully sued or disciplined for financial improprieties.

Information about these Data Banks is posted at However, access to the database is generally limited to government agencies and insurers. If you need this sort of information, try to get access to the Data Bank through one of these eligible entities.

Finding the law: Hospitals in the U.S. Code

A collection of general and permanent laws relating to hospitals, passed by the United States Congress, are organized by subject matter arrangements in the United States Code (U.S.C.; this label examines hospitals topics), to make them easy to use (usually, organized by legal areas into Titles, Chapters and Sections). The platform provides introductory material to the U.S. Code, and cross references to case law. View the U.S. Code’s table of contents here.


See Also

American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)
Canon Law
Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)
Medical Materials

Further Reading

Hospitals: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Hospitals. This part provides references, in relation to Hospitals, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Hospitals by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Hospitals and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Hospitals or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Hospitals and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Hospitals. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Hospitals should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Hospitals when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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