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Hospitals Get New Software Tool to Improve Clinical Care

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Press Release Date: July 18, 2002

Free software released today by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provides the nation's hospitals with a quick and relatively easy-to-use quality check on their inpatient care. AHRQ's Inpatient Quality Indicators (IQI) software can be downloaded from the Agency's Web site at

The IQI software uses hospital discharge data to flag potential quality problems including overly high death rates for patients admitted for conditions like acute myocardial infarction or hip fracture, or for surgical procedures including abdominal aortic aneurysm repair and coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

The IQIs also can spot questionable overuse, underuse or even misuse of procedures such as Cesarean sections and percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty. Hospitals can use this data as a prompt to investigate quality problems and make improvements.

"AHRQ developed the IQIs to help hospitals provide high-quality care," said the Agency's Acting Director, Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "Quality improvement has to start with rigorous measures that are translated into good care." Dr. Clancy added that the IQIs are not intended for profiling individual hospitals.

The IQI software contains indicators for death rates for 13 diagnoses and inpatient procedures, and use rates for nine procedures at the hospital and area levels. In addition, the IQIs contain indicators for how often operations such as carotid endarterectomy and pediatric heart surgery are performed. Research indicates that a patient's outcome from a certain procedure may be related to the number performed in a hospital.

The software is the newest product in AHRQ's Quality Indicators series, derived from the widely used original HCUP (Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project) Quality Indicators, but refined and expanded by the UCSF-Stanford Evidence-based Practice Center under a contract with the agency. The first software set, Prevention Quality Indicators, was released in November 2001, and the final product, Patient Safety Indicators, will be available in late 2002.

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs, (301) 427-1364: Bob Isquith, (301) 427-1539 (; Karen Migdail, (301) 427-1855 (


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