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NQF Endorses Measures to Address Care Coordination and Efficiency in Hospital Emergency Departments
Date:10/30/2008

Measures can help decrease wait time, increase physician productivity, and safety

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- To reduce overcrowding, decrease patient wait time, and improve quality of care, the National Quality Forum (NQF) endorsed 10 national voluntary consensus standards for hospital-based emergency department care. The measures aim to improve efficiency and care coordination in emergency departments where high demand and capacity issues have increased patient wait time and decreased physician productivity.

In the US, visits to hospital emergency departments account for approximately 10 percent of all ambulatory medical care visits. From 1994 through 2004, the number of emergency department visits in the US increased by 18 percent, while the number of emergency departments decreased by more than 12 percent.

"Increased accountability and information sharing through measurement and public reporting can help to truly enhance the performance of our nation's emergency departments," said Janet Corrigan, president and CEO of NQF. "These consensus standards for emergency department care are an important part of a broader goal to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare in America."

As a whole, the measures within this set address the safety and effectiveness of emergency care, care coordination and communication, and efficient management of patient flow through the emergency department. Measures are sensitive to unique needs of vulnerable patients including racial and ethnic minorities, Medicaid patients, and emergency department care in rural settings.

To improve patient safety and efficiency, specific measures within this set track the wait time for patients from arrival to departure within the emergency department, and the number of emergency department patients who leave without seeing a physician. Measures address patient safety by tracking procedures and medications administered to patients while in the emergency department.

Suzanne Stone-Griffin, RN, MSN, assistant vice president of clinical services at the Hospital Corporation of America, and John Moorhead, MD professor of emergency medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University, co-chaired NQF's steering committee on hospital-based emergency department care.

"The measures developed through NQF's consensus process reflect a commitment to advancing safety, quality, access, efficiency and affordability in our emergency departments," said Stone-Griffin. "These measures will help drive safe, high-quality and efficient care and serve as levers to overcome the challenges of emergency department overcrowding."

The endorsement of these measures is phase two of a project to increase public accountability and quality improvement related to emergency care at both the facility and practitioner levels. In November 2007, NQF endorsed 12 national voluntary consensus standards to measure emergency department communication and acute myocardial infarction care as it relates to emergency department transfers.

How to Appeal

NQF is a voluntary consensus standards-setting organization. Any party may request reconsideration of the recommendations, in whole or in part, by notifying NQF in writing via email no later than November 28 (appeals@qualityforum.org). For an appeal to be considered, the notification email must include information clearly demonstrating that the appellant has interests that are directly and materially affected by the NQF-endorsed recommendations and that the NQF decision has had (or will have) an adverse effect on those interests.

Funding

This work was conducted under a contract from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

MEASURES ENDORSED BY NQF

Please visit our website at http://www.qualityforum.org to read the full specifications for all of the new NQF-endorsed voluntary consensus standards and read NQF's research recommendations.

The mission of the National Quality Forum is to improve the quality of American healthcare by setting national priorities and goals for performance improvement, endorsing national consensus standards for measuring and publicly reporting on performance, and promoting the attainment of national goals through education and outreach programs. NQF, a non-profit organization (qualityforum.org) with diverse stakeholders across the public and private health sectors, was established in 1999 and is based in Washington, DC.


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SOURCE National Quality Forum
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