Joint Commission reports continued improvement in hospital care   09/19/2012
Hospitals continue to improve the quality of their care, according to the latest annual report from The Joint Commission. The report examines the performance of more than 3,300 accredited hospitals on 45 evidence-based practices for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgery, children's asthma, inpatient psychiatric services, venous thromboembolism (VTE) and stroke. Overall, hospitals performed the 45 practices 96.6% of the time in 2011, up from 81.8% in 2002, when the report began tracking 15 of the practices. Composite scores have climbed 23.8 percentage points for pneumonia care and 9.9 percentage points for heart attack care since 2002; 15.5 percentage points for surgical care since 2005; 14.9 percentage points for children's asthma care since 2008; 6.8 percentage points for inpatient psychiatric services since 2009; and 7.2 percentage points for VTE and 2.2 percentage points for stroke care since 2010. The report also recognizes 620 hospitals that performed the practices at least 95% of the time in 2011, a 50% increase from 2010. "When we raise the bar and provide the proper guidance and tools, hospitals have answered with excellent results," Joint Commission President Mark Chassin, M.D., states in the report.
AHRQ urged to work with stakeholders to improve EHR quality measures   09/19/2012
The AHA today encouraged the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to work with stakeholders to ensure that quality measures collected by electronic health records are "valid, reliable and feasible to collect." Health care providers and vendors have encountered "significant issues" with the re-tooled electronic specifications for quality measures used for EHR meaningful use, which "contain known errors and were never field tested," wrote Linda Fishman, AHA senior vice president of public policy analysis and development, in response to an AHRQ request for information on quality measurement enabled by health information technology. "Even those investing considerable resources to validate and correct the Clinical Quality Measures have little reason to trust the data integrity of the CQMs reported out of certified EHRs," the letter states. "In addition, there is not a structured process in place to ensure that corrections or updates are communicated and adopted by vendors." While AHA is "strongly committed" to EHR adoption and the potential benefits of automated quality reporting, the association said "it is important to get a small number of measures right before moving on to more measures or moving too quickly."
FDA approves first ultrasound imaging system for dense breasts   09/19/2012
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration yesterday approved the first ultrasound device for use with standard mammography in women with dense breast tissue who have a negative mammogram and no symptoms of breast cancer. An estimated 40% of women undergoing screening mammography have dense breasts, which have a high amount of tissue that can make mammograms difficult to interpret. A clinical study found an increase in breast cancer detection when images from the somo-v Automated Breast Ultrasound System device were reviewed in conjunction with mammograms.