Safety Net Hospital Performance on National Quality of Care Process Measures

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Several studies have found poor or mixed performance by safety net hospitals on national measures of quality. The study's purposes were to determine whether safety net hospital performance is similar to the average U.S. hospital, both currently and during earlier reporting periods, and to summarize features commonly used to assess performance, including definition of safety net and patient characteristics. This study reviewed quality performance data for the Joint Commission's accountability measures for hospitals that are members of the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH)—safety net hospitals that serve a large proportion of Medicaid and uninsured patients. Analyses of quality performance on the earliest data show that on average there was no statistically significant difference in performance between NAPH members and other hospitals on 6 of 15 measures. According to the most recent data, NAPH hospitals on average had no statistically significant differences as other hospitals on 13 of 18 measures and had statistically significantly better scores on two measures. These results are an important addition to the literature regarding safety net hospitals that serve a high proportion of Medicaid, low income, and uninsured patients, and support the case that quality of care at safety net hospitals is equivalent to that of nonsafety net hospitals.

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