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Perspectives on Safety > Interview
Health Literacy and Safety, February-March 2009
Dean Schillinger, MD, is a Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco, Director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, and Chief of the California Diabetes Prevention and Control Program. His role as a practicing clinician at a safety net hospital (San Francisco General Hospital) has put him in a unique position to pursue influential and relevant research related to health literacy and improving care for vulnerable populations.
The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System. New York, NY: The Commonwealth Fund; August 2006.
This report calls for providing "safe, well-coordinated, accessible, and efficient" care through five key steps: expanding health insurance coverage, implementing evidence-based patient safety and quality interventions, increasing use of health information technology, public reporting of safety and quality measures, and rewarding achievement in quality through "pay-for-performance." The authors ascribe the current quality problems in the U.S. health care system to system failures, including misaligned payment incentives, inadequate motivation to challenge the status quo, inadequate information systems, duplicative regulatory systems, and an overemphasis on autonomy.
Oakbrook Terrace, IL: The Joint Commission; March 2007.
This report reveals that the overall quality of care delivered by US hospitals improved steadily between 2003 and 2005, as measured by adherence to evidence-based treatments for myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, and pneumonia. Adherence to the Joint Commission's National Patient Safety Goals, which include measures to prevent wrong-site surgery and promote medication reconciliation, was also measured. Although results on these measures showed a more mixed picture, the report cautions that changes in measurement during the study period limit interpretability of the results.
Journal Article > Study
Public reporting of antibiotic timing in patients with pneumonia: lessons from a flawed performance measure.
Wachter RM, Flanders SA, Fee C, Pronovost PJ. Ann Intern Med. 2008;149:29-32.
Efforts to improve the quality and safety of care are being driven in part by a growing focus on public reporting. This commentary shares the potential for the unintended consequences of reporting on flawed performance measures, using time to first antibiotic dose (TFAD) in patients with pneumonia as an example. The authors discuss the background data for this particular quality measure, how it was translated into a performance standard, and the response it generated from emergency departments as well as payers, regulators, and professional societies. The authors conclude with a number of lessons learned from this case example, including the tension that results from having providers balance their desire to do the right thing with the public's view of their quality of care when they are in conflict with each other. A past AHRQ WebM&M commentary discussed the unintended consequences of achieving a good report card on such measures.
Neary L. "Talk of the Nation." National Public Radio. August 26, 2008.
This radio interview features Donald Berwick and Robert Wachter discussing how Web sites reporting national hospital data can drive improvement and safety.
Journal Article > Study
Validity of selected AHRQ Patient Safety Indicators based on VA National Surgical Quality Improvement program data.
Romano PS, Mull HJ, Rivard PE, et al. Health Serv Res. 2009;44:182-204.
The AHRQ Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs) were originally developed as a means of screening administrative data to identify potential patient safety problems. However, they are increasingly being used for quality measurement and hospital comparison purposes. This study sought to evaluate the accuracy of surgical PSIs for identification of true safety issues, by comparing PSI-detected events to clinical data. The PSIs tested had only moderate sensitivity and specificity for detecting clinical adverse events, lending support to prior research, which concluded that PSIs should be used only for screening purposes. An AHRQ WebM&M commentary discusses the limitations of using PSIs for public reporting and hospital comparison purposes.
Journal Article > Commentary
Pronovost PJ, Goeschel CA, Marsteller JA, Sexton JB, Pham JC, Berenholtz SM. Circulation. 2009;119:330-337.
This article proposes a framework to further patient safety research and improvement by clarifying the clinical and policy domains that link to a safety scorecard.
Oakbrook Terrace, IL: Joint Commission.
The Joint Commission's annual report summarizes hospital performance across a broad range of metrics that represent evidence-based standards for high-quality care. These accountability measures have been shown to be directly linked to patient outcomes. Since the report's first publication in 2007, data demonstrates that hospitals have measurably improved quality of care for heart attacks, pneumonia, surgical care, children's asthma care, inpatient psychiatric services, venous thromboembolism, and stroke patients.