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For Release:
September 17, 2008

Heather Howard

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner or Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160

DHSS Report Shows New Jersey Hospitals Continue to Make Progress in Improving Quality of Care


New Jersey hospitals are making steady improvements in the quality of patient care, matching or exceeding national standards in 20 of 23 measures, according to the fifth annual New Jersey Hospital Performance Report.


The report, released today by Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard, summarizes hospital performance in treating heart attacks, pneumonia, heart failure and surgical patients.  It shows how often hospitals used widely recognized best practices in treating these conditions. 


The report includes performance data from 73 New Jersey acute care hospitals and one specialty hospital that treats heart disease. 


Hospitals exceeded national benchmarks in 17 of 23 measures, matched national standards in three measures and fell below in three others.


“New Jersey hospitals have made major improvements in the quality of their patient care since the first report card was issued in 2004,’’ said Commissioner Howard. “The Department’s focus on improving health care quality statewide—and the hard work of the state’s acute care hospitals—has resulted in New Jersey now being recognized as a leader in quality care.”


New Jersey exceeded national performance in all four measures for heart failure. Significant improvement was also noted in the treatment of pneumonia, as New Jersey exceeded national standards in all assessments except one, where New Jersey and national tied at 100 percent. For heart attack, New Jersey exceeded national scores in five of seven measures, tied national in one and fell below in one. In surgery, New Jersey exceeded national scores in two, matched in one and fell narrowly below national scores on two measures.


This year’s report is expanded to include four new measures: choice of correct antibiotic for surgery patients, screening and administration of influenza vaccine for pneumonia patients, and two measures dealing with reducing the risk of blood clots after surgery.


Earlier this year, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) issued its state snapshots and ranked New Jersey the second best performing state—behind Michigan—in hospital care measures.


“The New Jersey healthcare system is striving to provide patients with better care, and they are succeeding,” said Pamela Allen, RPh., Co-Chair of the Department’s Quality Improvement Advisory Committee (QIAC) and Corporate Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer of the Saint Barnabas Health Care System.  QIAC, which advises the Department on quality issues, is a 25-member panel that includes hospital, physician, nurse, pharmacist, university, payer and consumer representatives.


The new measure for flu vaccine for pneumonia patients is important because it tells how often patients 50 and older were screened and given pneumonia vaccine—where appropriate—before being discharged. Overall, 87 percent of the time hospitals assessed whether pneumonia patients needed flu vaccine before discharge. The flu vaccine prevents influenza-related pneumonia, which can be deadly in those 50 and older.


Another new measures in this year’s report shows how often surgery patients were given the appropriate antibiotic. Overall, New Jersey hospitals administered the appropriate antibiotic 95 percent of the time. Previous reports included measures that showed how often hospitals started and stopped these antibiotics.


The final two new measures tell often doctors ordered treatments for preventing blood clots and how often patients received the appropriate treatment. These treatments include blood thinners, elastic support stockings or the use of mechanical air stockings to promote circulation.


The Hospital Performance Report is available on the web at, an interactive website that lets viewers create customized charts comparing individual hospitals and comparing hospitals by county and region. A new section of the website provides consumers with information on working with their health care professional to ensure their safety while they are hospitalized.


The Department uses Hospital Performance Report data as part of its quality improvement efforts. DHSS recently completed a project with the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy to improve performance on heart failure measures, particularly in the area of giving patients proper written instructions when they are discharged. The project was funded by the Health Care Foundation of New Jersey and implemented with the New Jersey Health Research and Education Trust.


The 14 participating hospitals significantly improved their performance on this measure during the first year of the project compared with similar, nonparticipating hospitals.


Hard copies of the report are available by calling the Office of Health Care Quality Assessment at 1-800-418-1397.



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