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Consumer Guide: Finding and Choosing a Hospital

In Wisconsin, the state licenses and regulates certain hospitals (based on Wis. Admin. Code ch. DHS 124). This includes swing bed hospitals, which offer nursing home care to patients. There are directories with details about each regulated hospital and swing bed hospital in Wisconsin. View the directories in Excel or as a PDF.


What is a hospital?

Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) defines a hospital as a place that offers 24-hour nursing or medical care. The care involves diagnosing and treating short-term illness or injury. There are a few types of hospitals:

  • Critical access hospital - A hospital that provides access to important care in a rural area. The facility must offer 24-hour emergency services, acute inpatient care (where the patient stays at the hospital on average for 96 hours), and swing bed care.
  • Swing bed hospital - A hospital that has beds devoted to nursing home care.

It’s important to find a hospital that you like and trust. It should meet your needs. We have resources to help you find and choose a hospital that works for you.

Hospital resources

Expand the section that applies to you to view a list of resources. Select a link to learn more.

Along with the directories, these resources can help you learn more about hospital options. DHS doesn’t refer people to hospitals. We do offer many state and national resources, though, that can help you choose.

These resources can help you understand laws that protect you and your care.

  • Client Rights Office - Find out how to get advice about your rights from a team of experts. This office helps people who get services for a disability, mental health, or substance use. They’ll tell you more about your rights under the law, Wis. Stat. §§ 51.30 and 51.61, and what they mean.
  • Complaints or Problems with Your Health Care - Find out how to file a complaint about your health care. Includes issues with health and residential care facilities, providers, insurance, and medical bills.
  • End-of-Life Planning - Learn about how to plan for the end of life. Includes details on advance directives, do-not-resuscitate orders, privacy rights, and more.
  • Hospitals - Learn more about how hospitals are regulated in Wisconsin.
Last revised May 19, 2023