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Agency for Healthcare Research Quality

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Guide to Health Care Quality

How to Know It When You See It

This guide is designed to help you get quality health care. Getting quality health care can help you stay healthy and recover faster when you become sick.

The tips presented here are provided to help you be active in making decisions about your health care. The goal is to make sure you receive the best possible care.

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You Deserve Quality Health Care

Getting quality health care can help you stay healthy and recover faster when you become sick. However, we know that often people do not get high-quality care. A 2004 study of 12 large U.S. communities found that just over half (54.9 percent) of people were receiving the care they needed.

What exactly is health care quality? We know that quality means different things to different people. Some people think that getting quality health care means seeing the doctor right away, being treated courteously by the doctor's staff, or having the doctor spend a lot of time with them.

While these things are important to all of us, clinical quality of care is even more important. Think of it like this: getting quality health care is like taking your car to a mechanic. The people in the shop can be friendly and listen to your complaints, but the most important thing is whether they fix the problem with your car.

Health care providers, the government, and many other groups are working hard to improve health care quality. You also have a role to play to make sure you and your family members receive the best quality care possible.

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AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care