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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Better Methods Needed to Measure Hospital Quality: Experts

Better Methods Needed to Measure Hospital Quality: Experts
Using patient death rates to assess care found to be unreliable in Massachusetts study

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From the December 23, 2010 Health Day news item by Robert Preidt

THURSDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) — Hospital-wide patient death rates may not be a reliable way to assess a facility’s quality of care, a new study indicates.

Researchers in Boston compared four measures of hospital patient death rates. They found that the measures yielded both higher- and lower-than-expected rates for the same Massachusetts hospitals for the same year.

The findings add to an ongoing debate about the value of using death rates as a measure of health-care quality, said lead author Dr. David M. Shahian, a Harvard Medical School professor of surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and colleagues.

“It’s troubling that four different methods for calculating hospital mortality rates as a measure of quality should yield such different results. Measurement theory — not to mention plain common sense — suggests that there is a problem,” Shahian said in an MGH news release….


The researchers told the state they could not recommend any of the four vendors’ tools.

“But the results should not be interpreted as an indictment of any particular technique,” study co-author Sharon-Lise T. Normand, Harvard Medical School professor of health care policy (biostatistics) and a professor of biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health, said in the news release.

Instead, Normand said, the findings “call into question the concept of measurement of hospital-wide mortality, as four different methods yielded four different results. Thus, this may not be a good way to assess hospital quality.”

The study results are published in the Dec. 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

SOURCE: Massachusetts General Hospital, news release, Dec. 22, 2010


Related MedlinePlus Pages

Related AHRQ Web pages (US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)





December 27, 2010 - Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , , , ,

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