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Health Information The Meaning Behind the Measures

Just as the quality of food varies, so does the quality of hospitals and the care they provide. And, like food quality, hospital quality is based on a variety of criteria and is critical to your health. Hospitals are rated and ranked on complex factors, such as service delivery, patient satisfaction and health outcomes. These are measured through data collection and analysis, as well as surveys and reviews. When combined, the information gathered from these sources can help give you a more complete picture of a hospital's quality of care.

"To understand quality care measures and what they indicate for each individual, you have to look behind the numbers," advises Susan Huerta, PhD, RN, associate vice president for patient safety and clinical effectiveness at Rush. Here, Huerta explains some statistics.


The percentage that Rush is below the national average of central-line bloodstream infections.

This statistic means that Rush had 61 percent fewer infections than other hospitals, nationally, that are caring for patients in intensive care units, according to Leapfrog Group data. Tracking quality of care involves looking at plenty of nitty gritty numbers like these. The bottom line is that a hospital should do everything it can to help patients avoid infections, so that there are zero central-line infections. "All our patient care units have implemented the use of a standardized checklist to assure that best practices are adhered to each time a central line is inserted," Huerta says. "And we are focusing on team training to improve critical communications about the care of the patient and to empower all caregivers to be the voice of the patient."

Source: Accessed April 2010



The percentage of nursing staff in critical care at Rush who are registered nurses (RNs). The remaining 6.7 percent are patient care technicians trained at Rush.

Studies show that hospitals in which more than 68 percent of the overall nursing staff has RN licenses have lower rates of postsurgical complications and mortality. Because of the importance of this connection, Rush employs well above that percentage of RNs. In fact, Rush is in the top 10 percent of hospitals in Illinois in terms of the proportion of RNs providing care. In addition, Rush has earned Magnet nursing status — the highest honor a hospital can receive for nursing services — from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Source: Accessed April 2010



The percentage of patients who have been to Rush who would "probably" or "definitely" recommend the hospital to others, according to the recent national Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey of patient satisfaction.

On the survey, 76 percent of Rush patients marked the "definitely recommend" box. The same HCAHPS report revealed that, on average, only 65 percent of patients in other Illinois hospitals would definitely recommend their hospital to others, while nationally, that number was 68 percent.

Source: Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey, April 2008–March 2009



The number of hospitals in the nation that lead through example according to the 2009 Leapfrog hospital survey.

Rush University Medical Center is included in the list of "top hospitals" in the country, as identified by the Leapfrog Group, a national not-for-profit organization that promotes health care safety and quality improvement. The survey looks at hospitals that deliver the best quality care while attaining the highest levels of efficiency. These levels include the implementation of electronic medical records and fully meeting standards for complex, high-risk procedures (such as heart bypass surgery), among other measures.

To learn more about how to make your own informed health care decisions, visit

Susan Huerta, PhD, RN, has been a nurse for three decades and worked in emergency and critical care units. At Rush, she has also been responsible for education and quality improvement.

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