Hospitals are making strides in quality and patient-safety improvements, but they still lag behind on several key measurements, according to the Joint Commissions annual report on quality and safety.
According to the study, 90% of hospitals achieved 90% compliance on only four of 22 quality-related measures the Joint Commission tracked in 2006, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia care and surgical care, with the best performance in pneumonia care. However, performance on the other 18 measurements ranged from 88.7% to 0.7%. For example, 36% of the time, hospitals were inconsistent in prescribing an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor at discharge for heart failure patients, one of the commissions key guidelines, according to the report.
Significant variability continues to exist between the highest- and lowest-performing hospitals across states, although this has been known within the hospital industry for a long time, the report stated. The commission recommended consumers use its Web site qualitycheck.org to compare standards-improvement data among hospitals.
The Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based accrediting body uses evidence-based quality measures and its national patient safety program to track improvements. -- by Jean DerGurahian