Hospitals have made significant quality gains in key areas such as surgical care and care of patients with heart failure, according to the Joint Commission's Report on Quality and Safety 2010 (PDF).
For its fifth annual quality report, which analyzed data from more than 3,000 hospitals, the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based not-for-profit accreditation organization analyzed hospitals looking specifically at their performance on accountability measures. Such measures must pass stricter criteria and are “closely linked to positive patient outcomes,” the commission said in the report.
For instance, hospitals' performance on the heart-attack care composite accountability measure—which includes administration of aspirin at arrival and beta blocker at discharge—reached 97.7% in 2009, up 9 percentage points from 88.6% in 2002. The percentage of hospitals adhering to set standards of safe surgical care also jumped to 95.8% in 2009 from 77.4% in 2004.
“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,” Mark Chassin, the commission's president, said in a 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.”