Measuring quality is a tricky business.
Advocates and originators of quality standards must first determine if a type of harm is avoidable and if it occurs often enough to represent a facility's quality. Then they must determine that what constitutes such an event is clear enough for a definition to be universally understood and applied. The measure can not be a reflection of a coding error or an artifact used to submit a claim.
The NQF's MAP report
What's behind the changes is a 491-page report from the Measures Application Partnership. Published in February, the report documents an effort by the National Quality Forum in contract with CMS to vet hundreds of measures that purport to rate hospital, physician, outpatient, and nursing home care quality.
What CMS includes in Hospital Compare, and what is downloadable from the federal database, is based on the MAP recommendations, CMS officials say.
But all of that complexity was lost on the public when the erroneous media report was published. Patient safety advocates went to various websites to blast CMS for being in the pocket of hospital industry lobbies.
"Please go to the Govt. and tell them WHY these changes are NOT good for patients and families, wrote Jeni D.-Safer Healthcare on the ProPublica Patient Harm Community website. This might WELL be the most important thing that YOU ever do in the name of patient safety in YOUR lifetime!!"