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Quality Terms and Organizations

Quality Terms

ACE Inhibitor - An ACE inhibitor (angiotensin converting enzyme) is a type of medicine used to treat heart attacks, heart failure, or a decreased function of the left side of your heart. ACE inhibitors can help reduce the risk of death from a heart attack if taken within 24 hours of the first symptoms of a heart attack. Continued use may help prevent heart failure. ACE inhibitors work by stopping the production of a hormone that narrows blood vessels. This helps reduce the pressure in your heart and lower blood pressure. If you have a heart attack, you should get a prescription for ACE inhibitors before you leave the hospital.

Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) - Commonly referred to as a heart attack. Occurs when arteries leading to the heart become blocked and stop blood flow to the heart. The affected part of the heart does not get oxygen and other nutrients. Without immediate treatment, the affected area dies or is permanently damaged.

Aspirin - Acetylsalicylic acid; a medicine commonly used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation; used at the first signs of heart attack to prevent blood clots.

Benchmark - A standard by which other measures can be judged or compared.

Beta Blocker - A drug that lowers blood pressure by limiting the activity of epinephrine, a hormone that increases blood pressure.

Board Certification - Board certification, or the international equivalent, confirms that a doctor has met the standards of a medical specialty board. Certification requires advanced training and passing a rigorous written and oral examination.

Complication Rate - Incidence of medical problems associated with a particular procedure or illness.

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) - Also known as heart failure; a disorder in which the heart loses its ability to pump blood efficiently.

Evidence-Based Medicine - Relies on scientific research to compare treatment options and offer "proof" regarding the best standards of care. The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has developed common performance measures for the most common and costly health conditions. The measures allow consumers to compare medical providers to learn which ones routinely offer the most effective care.

Heart Attack - Also known as acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Occurs when arteries leading to the heart become blocked and stop blood flow to the heart. The affected part of the heart does not get oxygen and other nutrients. Without immediate treatment, the affected area dies or is permanently damaged.

Hypoxemia - Inadequate oxygen supply in the arterial blood. It is common in patients with pneumonia and is treated by giving supplemental oxygen.

Left Ventricular Function (LVF) - A measure of how efficiently the heart is pumping.

Morbidity - Incidence of a disease in a population.

Mortality Rate - Death rate; often expressed by medical condition or procedure.Top of page

Nosocomial Infection - An infection acquired during hospitalization.

Oxygenation Assessment - A test to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood. The assessment may include an arterial blood gas (ABG) or pulse oximetry. Pneumonia patients may experience poor blood oxygenation when air spaces in the lungs fill with fluid.

Pneumonia - Inflammation of the lungs caused by an infection. Can be caused by a variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Pneumococcal Vaccination - An immunization against Streptococcus pneumonia, a bacterium that frequently causes meningitis and pneumonia in the elderly and people with chronic illnesses.

Pulse Oximetry - A test used to assess blood oxygen levels. It may be measured with an electrode attached to a finger, earlobe or skinfold. The test is painless.

Six Sigma - See Six Sigma for Quality Improvement.

Validation - After collecting quality data, validation is used to confirm the accuracy of the results. The validation process involves a secondary review of a sample of patient records.

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Quality-Related Organizations

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) - The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ) mission is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. Information from AHRQ's research helps people make more informed decisions and improve the quality of health care services. AHRQ was formerly known as the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research.

America's Best Doctors - Best Doctors is a major knowledge-based medical referral service. Best Doctors surveys leading medical specialists worldwide and asks them which doctors they themselves would go to for treatment in their specialty. After processing more than a million evaluations, only about 30,000 doctors, or about 4 percent of all physicians in the United States are eventually listed.

Castle Connolly's America's Top Doctors - Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. is a research and information company founded in 1991 by a former medical college chairman and president to help consumers find top doctors and top hospitals. Castle Connolly's established survey and research process, under the direction of an MD, involves tens of thousands of top doctors and the medical leadership of leading hospitals.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) - Formerly the Health Care Financing Administration, that is responsible for administering the Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments), and several other health-related programs.

Credentialing Organizations - These groups establish standards of quality. Medical providers who prove that they meet the standards gain official recognition by the group. Recognition may be in the form of a certification, accreditation or designation. Gaining recognition by such groups is typically a lengthy process. In some cases, you will find that most every provider meets the rigorous standards. In other cases, such as designation as a Primary Stroke Center, recognition is reserved for an elite group of providers who go above and beyond the standard level of care. DocFinder - DocFinder is the only combined public online physician database in the nation that has its direct source of data from state government licensing boards and that also remains free of charge to the public. DocFinder contains the licensing background and disciplinary information of physicians and other health care practitioners with much more detailed medical malpractice, hospital discipline and criminal conviction information from “Physician Profile Law” states such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The Employer Health Care Alliance Cooperative - The Alliance is an employer owned and directed non-profit cooperative that helps companies manage the total cost of ensuring the health and well being of their workforce.

HealthGrades - HealthGrades is the leading healthcare ratings organization, providing ratings and profiles of hospitals, nursing homes and physicians to consumers, corporations, health plans and hospitals. Millions of consumers and hundreds of the nation's largest employers, health plans and hospitals rely on HealthGrades' independent ratings to make healthcare decisions based on the quality of care.Top of page

Institute for Healthcare Improvement - The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) is a not-for-profit organization driving the improvement of health by advancing the quality and value of health care. Founded in 1991 and based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, IHI offers comprehensive products and services.

Leapfrog Group - The Leapfrog Group is an initiative driven by organizations that buy health care who are working to initiate breakthrough improvements in the safety, quality and affordability of healthcare for Americans. It is a voluntary program aimed at mobilizing employer purchasing power to alert America’s health industry that big leaps in health care safety, quality and customer value will be recognized and rewarded.

MetaStar, Incorporated - MetaStar, Incorporated is a non-profit health care quality improvement organization (QIO) based in Madison, Wisconsin. For over 30 years, MetaStar has been assuring cost-effective, quality health care based on extensive knowledge and experience in the areas of quality improvement, data analysis and cost containment. Using comparative data, science-based indicators, and collaborative relationships with health care professionals they promote improvement in processes and outcomes of care. They help create a health care system that is safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable.

National Quality Forum (NQF) - The National Quality Forum (NQF) is a not-for-profit organization created to develop and implement a national strategy for health care quality measurement and reporting. A shared sense of urgency about the impact of health care quality on patient outcomes, workforce productivity, and health care costs prompted leaders in the public and private sectors to create the NQF as a mechanism to bring about national change.

Partnering for Patient Empowerment through Community Awareness (PPECA) - Partnering for Patient Empowerment through Community Awareness (PPECA) is a collaboration among patient safety advocates, health sciences librarians, health care institutions, and public libraries. PPECA holds informational sessions at public libraries to raise awareness and educate consumers on patient safety issues.

Solucient 100 Top Hospitals - The goal of Solucient's 100 Top Hospitals program is to provide a board- and executive-level scorecard of hospital performance. The annual 100 Top National and 100 Top Cardiovascular studies measure and benchmark the industry’s management and clinical outcomes to help hospital boards and executives ask the right questions about organizational performance and assess the effectiveness of their strategies and execution.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services - The Department of Health and Human Services is the United States government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. The department includes more than 300 programs, covering a wide spectrum of activities.

U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals Survey - This survey provides annual rankings of America's top medical centers. Hospitals are ranked in 17 specialties, from cancer and heart disease to pediatrics and urology. Unlike other hospital rankings, "America's Best Hospitals" looks at entire specialties rather than at specific procedures. That allows for the identification of hospitals that excel in a variety of tough cases across a specialty.Top of page