Johns Hopkins Experts Propose Hospital Rating Guidelines

In a bid to clean up misleading institutional safety comparisons and go further to fix safety problems, Johns Hopkins experts say they are proposing standard guidelines to be used as hospital safety rating tools.

"Hospitals are increasingly reporting patient safety data on their Web sites," said Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care. "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."

In an article published in the Nov. 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pronovost, an anesthesiologist and critical care specialist, and a team of Johns Hopkins researchers adapted elements of the "Users’ Guide to the Medical Literature: A Manual for Evidence-Based Clinical Practice," to construct what they say are guidelines that hospitals can use to ensure validity and accuracy in patient safety reporting.

"The guide has been used successfully for years to help clinicians evaluate the validity and accuracy of research data they might want to use in their own practice," Pronovost said. "We propose using the same principles to evaluate the validity and accuracy of the methods used by an institution to gauge patient safety."

The new guidelines, Pronovost says, address three key questions: Are the measures important? Are they valid? And, are they useful for the goal intended, in this case to improve safety in health care organizations?

These larger concepts are addressed in an assessment tool that comprises some 30 questions.

For more information, visit www.hopkinsmedicine.org.

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