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Experts Propose Rules to Rate Hospitals' Safety

Concise reporting would ensure validity of patient safety findings, group says

TUESDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Standard guidelines to be used as hospital safety rating tools have been proposed by a team of Johns Hopkins experts, who said the guidelines could help do away with misleading safety comparisons and help improve patient safety.

"Hospitals are increasingly reporting patient safety data on their Web sites. While this is long overdue, the data is only helpful if it's accurate. The absence of proper oversight in measuring and reporting patient safety not only could mean some problems aren't being fixed, but also that the public is potentially being misled," Dr. Peter Pronovost, medical director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care, said in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues adapted elements of the well-known Users' Guide to the Medical Literature: A Manual for Evidence-Based Clinical Practice, to create the guidelines they said can ensure validity and accuracy in patient safety reporting.

Like the clinical practice assessments, the new guidelines address three key concerns: Are the measures important?; Are they valid?; and Are they useful for the intended goal of improving safety? These three key areas are addressed in an assessment tool with about 30 questions.

The proposed guidelines are published in the Nov. 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More information

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality offers patients five steps to safer health care.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medicine, news release, Nov. 6, 2007

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