Measuring seriousness of hospital quality of care issues.

A. Sales, Ira S Moscovice, N. Lurie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: A 1995 article showed that the discipline of the person who determines what constitutes a serious quality of care issue is significantly associated with the type of issues identified as serious. Moreover, what is a serious issue for one organization or provider may be a minor issue for another. METHODS: Six hundred hospital administrators, physicians, nurses, and quality managers in 72 hospitals rated the seriousness of issues they had identified in their own hospitals. A panel of 90 external hospital administrators, physicians, and quality managers rated a condensed set of the same issues. RESULTS: Across all the hospitals, internal scores were significantly lower (less serious) than external scores. Internal respondents consistently rated issues identified in their hospital lower than did external raters. The mean internal rating was .60 times the score for the anchor issue ("late lab or x-ray results," assigned a score of 300), while the mean external rating was 1.73 times the anchor score. DISCUSSION: Convergence of internal and external perceptions of the seriousness of quality of care issues in hospitals cannot be assumed. This raises questions about the effects of applying external judgments on seriousness of quality of care issues, such as those used in report cards or other external reports on hospital quality of care. CONCLUSION: There is greater conformity of viewpoint when respondents are asked to adopt an industrywide perspective rather than an internal one. External raters are more likely to consider problems serious than are internal raters, possibly because they do not have local knowledge of mitigating circumstances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-816
Number of pages6
JournalThe Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1996

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This record is sourced from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine


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