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Long-Awaited Hospital Quality Comparison Report To Be Released

October 4, 2002

Long-awaited hospital quality comparison report to be released on Tuesday
Texas is first in nation to use federal ‘Inpatient Quality Indicators’

AUSTIN TX — On Tuesday, October 8, at 2 p.m., the Texas Healthcare Information Council (THCIC) will release its first statewide quality report, comparing Texas hospitals on 25 selected inpatient quality indicators. The report will be released online and will be discussed during a press conference at the agency’s offices in Austin at Two Commodore Plaza, 206 East 9th Street, 20th floor.
Texas is the first state to use “inpatient quality indicators” which were developed by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). AHRQ conducted exhaustive research and studies to identify information about specific procedures performed in hospitals for which there is strong evidence of a link to quality of care. For example, certain procedures tend to have a better outcomes in a hospital doing the procedure frequently when compared to a hospital that rarely does that same procedure.
The THCIC was created by the legislature in 1995 to collect patient-level discharge data from Texas hospitals. Patient confidentiality is strictly protected. The discharge data is available on a quarterly basis and can be purchased from the Council. The quality reports represent the first of many in which the Council will translate data about services provided by hospitals into understandable information for the public.
The report includes measures under the following categories:
· Inpatient mortality for medical conditions.
· Inpatient mortality for procedures.
· Utilization of procedures for which there are questions of overuse, underuse, or misuse.
· Volume of procedures for which there is evidence that a higher volume of procedures is associated with lower mortality.
Most Texas hospitals are included in the report but some rural hospitals are exempt from reporting. Hospitals will be listed alphabetically by metropolitan areas. Unfortunately, the information will be available in a static format, which will not allow for easy sorting by hospital or procedure. Each specific measure will be presented and compared within the MSA by hospital name. So a person will be unable to look at how a given hospital performs across-the-board on all measures, but will have to manually compile this information.
Physician specific information is not available, even though physicians direct, oversee and deliver medical care in hospitals. The state law specifically shields the identity of physicians from the public. In the public use data file, physicians can be tracked only by a “unique physician identifier.”
In developing the report, the data has been “risk adjusted” to allow for fair comparisons of performance. The adjustments are made by age, sex, severity of illness and risk of mortality. So, even though one hospital may have sicker patients because it is a trauma center, that factor has been accounted for in the report.
For more information about the release of the report, contact Priscilla Boston at the Council, 512-482-3316. For comments on this report, contact Lisa McGiffert, (512) 477-4431 ext. 115.
Additional information about the quality indicators is at www.qualityindicators.ahrq.gov/data/hcup/qinext.htm.
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Consumers Union Southwest Office
(512) 477-4431
Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, is an independent, nonprofit testing and information organization serving only the consumer. We are a comprehensive source of unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health nutrition, and other consumer concerns. Since 1936, our mission has been to test products, inform the public, and protect consumers.