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Consumer Guide to Health Care


Finding and Choosing a Hospital

Disclaimer: All external hyperlinks are provided for your information and for the benefit of the general public.  The Department of Health Services does not testify to, sponsor, or endorse the accuracy of the information provided on externally linked pages.


What is a Hospital?

A Hospital is a place that provides 24-hour nursing/medical care to diagnose and treat short-term illnesses and/or injuries. A rural acute care facility that provides 24-hour emergency services, acute inpatient and swing-bed care is called a Critical Access Hospital.  At a Critical Access Hospital, on average individuals have an inpatient stay of up to 96 hours. A Swing Bed Hospital is a hospital that provides swing-bed care by having beds that are able to provide Nursing Home care.

Regulation Information

Hospitals are regulated under Wisconsin Administrative Code, Chapter DHS 124 (exit DHS). Learn more about the Department's role in regulating Hospitals.

Hospitals and Other Health Services Providers Survey Guide (PDF, 67 KB)

Looking for a hospital?

Provider Search:  This application from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services allows you to search for Wisconsin hospitals by location within the state.

Search a federal hospital database (exit DHS):  This hospital compare database, from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), provides information about hospitals and their compliance with Medicare and Medicaid regulations and additional information.

Search a database: This database, published by American Hospital Directory, Inc., provides online data for more than 6,000 hospitals. The information includes data from the American Hospital Association and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Hospital Directories

Hospitals Directory (PDF, 109 KB)

Swing Bed Hospital Directory (PDF, 35 KB)

Guides to help you choose a hospital

Hospital Compare, from CMS, provides information on the quality of care provided at hospitals in states and territories throughout the country. The site also includes a hospital checklist to help you choose a hospital.

Quality Check is a service offered by the Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization that evaluates health care quality and safety. Look up a hospital by name or location.

The Leapfrog Group Hospital Survey:  Reports from hospitals on progress they have made toward meeting four safety standards  established by the Leapfrog Group, a coalition of public and private organizations that purchase health care benefits for their employees.

Complaints Regarding Wisconsin Health and Residential Care Providers

The Department of Health Services Division of Quality Assurance is responsible for assuring the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Wisconsin.  If any individual believes that a caregiver, agency, or Department regulated facility has violated State or Federal laws pertaining to regulated entities, that individual has the right to file a complaint.

Client Rights

  • Wisconsin Client Rights: Anyone who is receiving services for mental illness, a developmental disability, or substance abuse in the state of Wisconsin has specific rights under Wisconsin Statute 51 (State Alcohol, Drug Abuse, Developmental Disability and Mental Health Act) subsections 51.61 and 51.30. (exit DHS) (PDF, 1.3 MB)

  • Advance Directives: An advance directive describes, in writing, your choices about the treatments you want or do not want or about how health care decisions should be made for you if you become incapacitated and cannot express your wishes.

Last Revised: September 12, 2014