Hospital care for patients with heart failure, acute myocardial infarction (AMI), and pneumonia has significantly improved, according to a study by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Researchers scrutinized the performance of more than 3,000 accredited hospitals on 18 evidence-based, standardized indicators of quality of care. One measure assessed clinical outcome (such as death in the hospital after AMI); the others gauged care processes-for instance, the process of giving aspirin to patients with AMI within 24 hours of admission and again at discharge. The JCAHO implemented the measures in July 2002 to spur continuous improvement in care. Participating hospitals received quarterly feedback in the form of comparative reports.
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Improvements in care for patients with the three selected conditions ranged from 3% to 33% during the 2-year study period. The most dramatic improvements related to three measures calling for smoking cessation counseling.