Hospitals are only an intermediate stage of civilization.

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Justine Cadet,
News Editor

Florence Nightingale, the pioneer of nursing and reformer of hospital sanitation methods, captures the importance of why healthcare institutions should strive to become centers of excellence. Some people believe that hospitals need closer adherence to protocols and guidelines to provide a superior level of care.

In fact, Sens. Max Baucus and Charles Grassley have drafted a bill that would make quality measures a litmus test for hospitals to receive Medicare reimbursements for treating conditions such as heart attacks.

The senators said that the new proposal “takes pay-for-reporting one step further by linking Medicare payments not only to reporting and tracking quality activities, but also how well the hospitals actually perform on these quality measures.”

A study published this week in Circulation reports that an adherence to guidelines can actually change mortality rates. Researchers analyzed data from the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines (GTWG) program to determine if recent efforts to improve heart attack care at hospitals had closed the gender disparity gap. They discovered that there were no clinically meaningful differences in in-hospital survival after heart attack among men and women presenting to GTWG participating hospitals---a promising finding compared to a decade ago, when women had an overall much higher death rate after heart attack compared with men.

However, one caveat to these positive results remains: female STEMI patients were still twice as likely to die if hospitalized, compared to their male counterparts, indicating that more work remains in order to level out gender discrepancies in the treatment of heart attack patients.

Unfortunately, these types of enterprise-wide initiatives and programs often require significant funding, and a new CSC report out this week indicates that hospitals are beginning to engage in the nationwide belt-tightening, which may prohibit such undertakings. Of the hospitals surveyed, 74 percent have begun implementing changes to respond to the crisis, while 20 percent are in the planning stages of responding through cutting back on various IT and construction projects.

As Nightingale suggests, a patient’s time in a hospital is transitional and life-altering, and as a result, even during these trying economic times, their stay should be as seamless and short as possible, focused on the appropriate treatments within the appropriate methods.

On these topics or any others, feel free to contact me.

Justine Cadet, News Editor