Quality of Care

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“Quality” healthcare has a wide variety of meanings. To some people, sitting in the waiting room a short time to see a doctor means “quality” healthcare. To others, being treated politely by the doctor's staff means “quality” healthcare. There are those who define “quality” health care by how much time the doctor devotes to examining you. While these are important, "clinical" quality healthcare is even more important. Healthcare has become a major concern to the people of the United States. Compared to the other industrialized nations in the World, the United States pays way too much and gets way too little back. Quality problems are reflected today in the wide variation in use of healthcare services, the underuse and overuse of some services, and misuse of others. Improving the quality of healthcare and reducing medical errors should be priority in all healthcare agencies. This is a clear indicator that healthcare practice has not kept pace with the evolving science of healthcare to ensure evidence-based practice in the United States. Millions of people do not receive necessary care and suffer needless complications that add to costs and reduce productivity. Each year people die because they do not receive effective interventions. For example, a study of Medicare patients who had suffered heart attacks found that only 21 percent of eligible patients received beta blockers. The mortality rate among patients who received beta blockers was 43 percent lower than it was among nonrecipients. Each year, millions of Americans receive health care services that are unnecessary, increase costs, and may even endanger their health. Research has shown that this occurs across all populations. Improving quality begins by defining excellent care for a condition or problem. Guidelines must be put in place to measure current practice. Then healthcare agencies must define shortfalls in quality, design and implement interventions and assess their impact, and sustain and enhance...
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