Joint Commission says hospital quality improving

A new study from The Joint Commission has concluded that U.S. hospitals have steadily improved the quality of patient care over the past six years. The study, which analyzed National Patient Safety Goal compliance and quality measures on several common treatments and procedures, found some dramatic improvements in the areas it measured.

For example, hospitals in the study provided smoking cessation advice to 98.2 percent of heart attack patients in 2000, compared with 66.6 percent in 2002; they also improved their results in giving this advice to heart failure patients and patients with pneumonia. Furthermore, hospitals improved dramatically in providing discharge instructions to heart failure patients (30.9 percent to 77.5 percent) screening and vaccinating pneumonia patients for pneumococcus. Outcome measures improved as well. Heart attack care results, for example, improved to 96 percent in 2007 from 86.9 percent in 2002 on evidence-based measures of care.

Of course, for every positive quality result, there's always some downside. In this case, hospital quality varied widely, and some hospitals did better than others in treating particular conditions. Take heart failure: While hospitals in the highest performing state provided discharge instructions to heart failure patients 92.1 percent of the time, the lowest-performing state's hospitals provided such instructions only 56.6 percent of the time.

To learn more about this study:
- read the report

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