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Hospital asthma grades not linked to healthier kids

Chicago Tribune/Reuters, October 5, 2011

Hospitals that meet performance standards for treating kids with asthma aren't any better at keeping those kids from showing up in the emergency room with asthma problems in the future, according to new research. The results call into question whether the standards, used to grade the hospitals on their asthma care, are helpful if they don't translate into real patient improvements, researchers said. Specifically, hospitals following so-called process measures that encourage sending young asthma patients home with a plan for managing their condition did not result in the kids having fewer hospitalizations and ER trips. The problem, researchers said, may be that there's no way to make sure those asthma management plans were explained in a way that families understood, or that they followed doctors' recommendations at discharge.