Quality of Care at U.S. Hospitals Shows Improvement

THURSDAY Sept. 23, 2010 -- There have been major improvements in the quality of care provided by U.S. hospitals, according to an annual report released this week by the national organization that accredits hospitals and other health-care organizations and programs.

The Joint Commission's analysis of data from more than 3,000 accredited hospitals found continual improvement over eight years on evidence-based measures of care for heart attack, pneumonia, surgical care and children's asthma care.

For example, the heart attack care result improved from 88.6 percent in 2002 to 97.7 percent in 2009. A 97.7 percent score means that hospitals provided evidence-based heart attack treatment such as aspirin at arrival and beta-blockers at discharge 977 times out of 1,000.

Among the other findings:

  • The care result for children's asthma increased from 70.7 percent in 2007 to 88.1 percent in 2009.
  • The pneumonia care result rose from 72.4 percent in 2002 to 92.9 percent in 2009.
  • The surgical care result improved from 77.4 percent in 2004 to 95.8 percent in 2009.
  • The overall use of evidence-based measures increased from 81.8 percent in 2002 to 95.4 percent in 2009.

However, improvements are still needed in a number of areas, according to the report. For example, only 55.2 percent of hospitals achieved 90 percent compliance or better in providing fibrinolytic therapy to heart attack patients within 30 minutes of arrival. Only 67.5 percent of hospitals achieved 90 percent compliance or better in providing antibiotics to intensive care unit pneumonia patients within 24 hours of arrival.

"It is very encouraging that this year's report shows high rates of performance on these critical process measures and high levels of consistent excellence among hospitals on many measures," Dr. Mark R. Chassin, president of The Joint Commission, said in a commission news release. "Hospitals devote enormous resources and energy to using these performance measures to drive improvement in their clinical processes. This report demonstrates that these efforts are resulting in consistently improving patient care in America's hospitals."

Posted: September 2010


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