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AHRQ's 2007 National Healthcare Quality Report finds safety improving but gains are hard to measure

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Modern Healthcare Online: Patient safety improved at an annual rate of only 1% from 2000 to 2005, according to a new report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The 2007 National Healthcare Quality Report is AHRQ’s fifth-annual study measuring progress made in providing safe healthcare. Despite the increased availability of patient-safety information, documenting progress remains difficult after the Institute of Medicine’s 1999 To Err is Human study, AHRQ said in its quality report.

The report also analyzed selected core measures and found quality slowed to an annual rate of 1.5% over five years. Providers have been able to reduce variation in care delivery for some measures, but the progress was “not uniform,” according to the report.

The 2007 report focuses on 41 core measures covering effectiveness, safety, timeliness and patient-centeredness and selected by an HHS interagency work group. While the measures are scientifically derived, the knowledge base is not evenly distributed across the healthcare industry, AHRQ said in the report. The current report uses data available from a baseline year of 2000 or 2001, compared against 2004 or 2005 data.

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