Hospitals are doing a better job treating patients who have suffered heart attacks, heart failure or pneumonia, but still struggle with newer quality indicators, such as preventing surgical infections, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have found.
On average, hospitals scored better across 10 long-standing quality measures, earning a median score of 89.1, according to an updated analysis by Arnold Epstein and Ashish Jha. The new median score is 5 points higher than what their 2005 study found.
The magnitude of increase in quality scores across the board was surprising, Jha told the journal Quality Matters. We saw dramatic improvements in scores in all conditions.
Previous studies by Epstein and Jha linked poor performance in three quality indicatorsacute myocardial infarction, heart failure and pneumoniato higher risk-adjusted mortality, according to the report.
Still, Jha said that broader quality measures are needed. These measures are narrowly tailored toward three common medical conditionsplus infection prevention in surgery, he told the journal. Taken together, the three conditions represent fewer than 15% of hospital care for the elderly, he said. Developing measures for other conditions and focusing on other aspects of care, such as patient safety, is critical. -- by Matthew DoBias