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Health Care Quality: How to Measure?

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Health Care Quality: How to Measure?

November 09, 2009

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine published a seminal report, "To Err is Human," sparking a movement to improve the quality of health care in the United States. The report concluded that at least 44,000 people - and possibly as many as 98,000 - die in hospitals annually from preventable medical errors. In the last decade, patient safety advocates and governments have promoted increased transparency about hospital infection rates and overall safety performance. In addition, many Web sites, including several operated by the federal and state governments, now allow consumers to compare hospitals based on various quality indicators and mortality measures. Patient safety and quality experts say, however, that the science behind measuring quality is still in its infancy. Consequently, proponents and critics can be found for nearly every comparison system and proposed standard. Updated March 2010

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