US Hospitals Getting High Marks for Quality of Care

September 27, 2010

Hospitals are delivering better care to patients being treated for heart attacks or pneumonia and children with asthma, according to a new report.

Accredited hospitals in the US are providing higher-quality, evidence-based care for heart attack, pneumonia, surgical care and children’s asthma care, according to data gathered by The Joint Commission. The report—Improving America’s Hospitals: The Joint Commission’s Report on Quality and Safety 2010—states that nearly 98% of hospitals are delivering recommended care for heart attack patients, such as aspirin at arrival and beta-blockers at discharge.

“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,” said Mark R. Chassin, MD, president of The Joint Commission, in a press report. “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.”

The fifth annual report shows continual improvement over an eight-year period on accountability measures—quality measures that meet four criteria designed to identify measures that produce the greatest positive impact on patient outcomes.

The data, drawn from more than 3,000 accredited hospitals, show:

  • Significant progress in consistently using evidence-based treatments. In 2002, hospitals achieved 81.8% composite performance on 957,000 opportunities to perform care processes related to accountability measures. In 2009, hospitals achieved 95.4% composite performance on 12.5 million opportunities.
  • Hospital performance on measures of quality relating to inpatient care for childhood asthma has increased dramatically in the two years since being introduced. The 2009 children’s asthma care result is 88.1%, up from 70.7% in 2007.
  • The 2009 pneumonia care result is 92.9%, up from 72.4% in 2002.
  • The surgical care result improved to 95.8% in 2009 from 77.4% in 2004.

Although hospitals achieved 90% or better performance on most individual process of care measures, the report contends that more improvement is needed. For example, hospitals finished 2009 with relatively low performance on the following two measures introduced in 2005:

  • Providing fibrinolytic therapy within 30 minutes of arrival to heart attack patients—only 55.2% of hospitals achieved 90% compliance or better.
  • Providing antibiotics to intensive care unit pneumonia patients within 24 hours of arrival—only 67.5% of hospitals achieved 90% compliance or better.

The report—which, for the first time, focuses on accountability measures—is an effort to clearly demonstrate the impact that performance measures have on improving patient outcomes, according to The Joint Commission. To view quality, safety and patient satisfaction results for specific hospitals, visit www.qualitycheck.org.

For more information

  • Hospitals, Group Practices Showing Docs (Who Perform) the Money
  • HHS.gov Hospital Compare
  • KevinMD: Joint Commission hospital inspections have improved