Patient care improved at U.S. hospitals that received regular feedback on their performance, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers at the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations evaluated hospital data on treatment of acute myocardial infarction, heart failure and pneumonia. The data, from 3,087 hospitals, covered inpatient mortality and 17 measures of process, such as administration of aspirin at admission for heart-attack patients and provision of smoking-cessation counseling for patients with any of the three conditions. Hospitals received quarterly reports on their performance. Nationally, hospitals' performance on 15 of the 18 measures "demonstrated a significant trend of improvement" between the quarter of 2002 and the second quarter of 2004, the researchers said. No measure showed statistically significant deterioration. Read the abstract.
In a second study, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health used CMS data to examine how hospitals did in overall treatment of the three conditions based on region and ownership status. Composite scores varied widely between the best-performing and worst-performing regions. For example, hospitals in Oklahoma City provided the best care for pneumonia, with the region ranking 23 percentage points higher, plus or minus four points, than the lowest-performing region, San Bernadino, Calif. Not-for-profit hospitals had "significantly higher" composite scores than for-profit hospitals on all three conditions, the researchers said. Read the abstract. -- by Joseph Conn