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For Release:
July 01, 2004

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner

New Jersey’s First Hospital Performance Report Encourages Quality Improvements, Enhances Consumer Information


TRENTON –Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. today released the state’s first annual report on hospital performance, giving hospitals, health care providers, patients and their families information on treatment of heart attack and pneumonia.


New Jersey’s report is based on the performance of 82 hospitals in treating approximately 16,000 heart attack patients and 28,000 pneumonia patients over a nine-month period in 2003. The analysis measures appropriate use of widely recognized best practices, such as giving aspirin to heart attack patients and prompt antibiotic treatment to pneumonia patients. The hospital scores are based on the percent of eligible patients who receive these treatments.


Both web and print versions of the report provide information about heart attack and pneumonia and their treatments, as well as helpful consumer advice. Included are sections on taking an active role in health care decision-making and knowing one’s rights as a hospital patient.


“The report is a key component of our strategy to improve health care quality statewide,’’ said Governor James E. McGreevey. “By publishing this report, the state Department of Health and Senior Services is promoting accountability and hospital excellence."


The report was unveiled during a press conference at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton.  The department has produced reports on the quality of cardiac surgery and the performance of HMOs since 1997.


“Health care quality is one of this administration’s top priorities. The performance report is designed to stimulate improvement in hospital quality by providing hospitals, health care practitioners, and consumers detailed information on appropriate use of proven treatments for major illnesses,’’ Commissioner Lacy said. “These treatments represent best practices in report was developed in conjunction with the department’s Quality Improvement Advisory Committee (QIAC), a 25-member panel that includes hospital, physician, nurse, pharmacist, university, payer and consumer representatives.  QIAC advised the deppatient care.”


New Jersey is one of four states that produce hospital performance reports. Rhode Island, Maryland and Connecticut also report on similar hospital quality measures.


New Jersey’s first annual hospital performance artment on which performance measures to include in the report, as well as on data collection and the format of the report. 


“This report allows hospitals to see how well they perform compared to their peers and to hospitals statewide,” said Dr. Peter Gross, chairman of the department of internal medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center, and co-chair of QIAC.  “Hospitals can use this feedback to help them make system changes that will lead to better patient care.”


To assess quality, the report uses care measures developed by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO), an independent, not-for-profit organization that evaluates and accredits health care organizations and programs nationwide.


Scores for treatment of heart attack are based on the percentage of eligible patients given aspirin on arrival, aspirin at discharge, beta blocker on arrival, beta blocker at discharge, and an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor at discharge.  Research has shown that aspirin reduces the risk of a subsequent heart attack and death.  Beta blockers also prevent subsequent heart attack and death.  ACE inhibitors prevent heart failure and death.


Scores for treatment of pneumonia are based on the percentage of eligible patients whose oxygen levels were checked within 24 hours of arrival, who received antibiotics within four hours of arrival, and who were screened for pneumonia vaccination and were immunized, if appropriate.  Pneumonia can lower oxygen levels in the blood, so levels should be measured to determine if a patient needs oxygen.  Antibiotic treatment should be administered early to cure pneumonia and reduce complications.  Pneumonia vaccine can prevent or reduce the risk of complications, and prevent future infections.


Hospitals generally earned higher scores in treatment of heart attack than pneumonia. The top 10 percent of hospitals scored at least 97 percent for administering the correct heart attack treatments. The top 10 percent of hospitals scored at least 84 percent for administering the correct pneumonia treatments. 


The online version of the performance report – available at – enables consumers to view individual hospital profiles.  Consumers can also compare the performance of various hospitals, or they can make comparisons by county and region. The on-line version also provides a technical explanation of the measures and methodology. 


Over the next two weeks, the department will be mailing 10,000 copies of the report to libraries, elected officials and employers statewide, as well as to organizations in other states.


To obtain a copy of the report, access the website or contact the department’s Office of Health Care Quality Assessment, Division of Health Care Quality and Oversight, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services by mail at P.O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360, by phone at (800) 418-1397, or by fax at (609) 292-6523.


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