The Joint Commission (a private membership and hospital accreditation body) has released its 2009 Annual Report on Quality and Safety providing a summary of rates for performance measures for a number of evidence-based treatments for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care between 2002 and 2008.

Evidence-based treatments are backed by science where patients typically experience the best medical outcomes; such as, giving surgery patients antibiotics one hour before surgery, or doing a blood culture for pneumonia patients who are treated in the ICU. These best practices can help protect patients from infections and other complications that arise from poor quality care.

The JC reports that the magnitude of national improvement on these measures ranged from 4.9 percent to 58.8 percent. According to the Joint Commission president Mark Chassin, “[W]e are beginning to see the kind of consistent excellence to which we aspire for all of health care.”

That’s a strong statement for a health system that causes more than 100,000 deaths and harms millions more per year. While it’s important to know hospitals’ rates of improvement on quality performance measures, it means little to the public without the reporting of outcomes such as mortality and infection rates.

Until all hospitals provide outcome data for their treatments rendered, positive statements like these from the Joint Commission can’t tell us the whole story of our health system’s improvement. What is your hospital story? Leave a comment or tell us here!