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Quality at Rush
Sources for Quality Information

Lots of information is available online to help you assess and compare hospitals' quality of care. But what information is worth reviewing and what does it tell you? Here are some of the categories of information available to help you make decisions about your care.

Accreditations

Accreditation is one standard indication of a hospital's quality of care. Hospitals voluntarily seek accreditation from independent accrediting organizations, most commonly the Joint Commission. If a hospital scores well enough on an extensive evaluation of its quality and safety of care, it is accredited. Accreditation provides the public information on a hospital's quality of care, and the accreditation process provides the hospital a way to review and improve its quality of care.

A hospital may also have specific services or programs that have received special accreditation  like for stroke care or heart services. The Joint Commission accredits some specific hospital services, as do a few other organizations.

Core measures

You are likely to see the term "core measures" or "core performance measures" when researching hospitals' quality of care. Core measures show how consistently hospitals give recommended treatments for certain common conditions. The most commonly used and compared nationally are the core measures established by the Joint Commission based on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid.

The measures are based on uniform standards for health care processes  and the outcomes of those processes  for common conditions such as heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia. For each condition, there are multiple process measures that, when added up, help tell you about the quality of care at a hospital. These measures are based on research and are widely accepted.

Core measures help identify which aspects of a hospital's care need improving, and they can give you important insights into a hospital's ability to manage specific aspects of a disease.

An example of a core measure: heart attack care

For example, a patient who is in a hospital because of a heart attack has treatments such as medication to address pain and actions to unclog, or open up, the artery feeding the heart muscle. The core measures look at whether that patient received appropriate related drugs, education and testing, and whether these actions occurred within certain time frames.

The core measure score tells what percentage of the patients who came to the hospital for a heart attack within a certain time frame (usually broken down by three months of the year) received all the right tests and treatments at the right times.

Mortality

Mortality (or death) rates show whether patients who enter a hospital for a particular condition are still alive 30 days after their initial admission to the hospital. Data on 30-day mortality rates are publicly available online from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid.

Because some hospitals, such as academic medical centers like Rush, tend to take care of significantly sicker patients and more complicated cases, the rate of mortality is adjusted to take into account how sick patients were before being admitted to the hospital. This rate is then referred to as "risk adjusted."

Patient satisfaction

You can learn what other patients' say about their experiences with a hospital. The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) hospital survey is a national survey administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and was developed by them with the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. It provides people with detailed information about adults' inpatient experiences for almost every hospital in the United States.

Readmissions

Readmission rates show whether patients who enter a hospital for a particular condition are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days after an initial discharge. Data on 30-day readmission rates are publicly available online from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid.

Because some hospitals, such as academic medical centers like Rush, tend to take care of significantly sicker patients and more complicated cases, the rate of readmissions is adjusted to take into account how sick patients were before being admitted to the hospital. This rate is then referred to as "risk adjusted."


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