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Hospitals get new software tool to improve clinical care

Free software released recently by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality provides the Nation's hospitals with a quick and relatively easy-to-use quality check on their inpatient care.

To access to the software select AHRQ's Inpatient Quality Indicators (IQI).

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

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

The IQI software contains indicators for mortality 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 of such procedures 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 (290-97-0013) with the Agency. The first software set, the Prevention Quality Indicators, was released in November 2001, and the final product, Patient Safety Indicators, will be available in late 2002.

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