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Setting National Hospital Standards Could Boost Cardiac Care
Date:11/13/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Around the nation, hospitals refer to themselves as "stroke centers of excellence" or "chest pain centers," the implication being those facilities offer top-notch care for stroke and heart attacks.

But current programs for certifying, accrediting or recognizing hospitals as providers of the best cardiovascular or stroke care are falling short, according to an American Heart Association/American Stroke Association advisory.

"Right now, it's not always clear what is just a marketing term and what actually truly distinguishes the quality of a center," said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, an American Heart Association spokesman and professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

A review of the available data found no clear relationship between having a special designation as a heart attack or stroke care center and the care the hospitals provide or, even more important, how patients fare.

To change that, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are jointly developing a comprehensive stroke and cardiovascular care certification program that should serve as a national standard.

The goal is to help patients, insurers and others have more reliable information about where they are most likely to receive the most up-to-date, evidence-based care available, Fonarow said.

"There is a value to having a trusted source develop a certification program that clinicians, insurers and the public can use to understand which hospitals are providing exceptional cardiovascular and stroke care, including achieving high-quality outcomes," he added.

The program, which will take about two years to develop and will likely be done in partnership with other major medical organizations, will cover emergency situations such as heart attack and stroke, but also heart failure management and corona
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