Evaluating Quality Indicators for Patients with Community-Acquired Pneumonia

Published in: Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement, v. 27, no. 11, Nov. 2001, p. 575-590

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2000

by David C. Rhew, Matthew Bidwell Goetz, Paul G. Shekelle

BACKGROUND: Several organizations have published evidence-based quality indicators for community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). However, there is variability in the types of indicators presented between organizations and the level of supporting evidence for each of the indicators. A systematic review of the literature and relevant Internet Web sites was performed to identify quality indicators for CAP that have been proposed or recommended by organizations, and each of the indicators was then critically appraised, using a well-defined set of criteria. METHODOLOGY: The MEDLINE, EMBASE, Best Evidence, and Cochrane Systematic Review databases and Internet Web sites were searched for articles and guidelines published between January 1980 and May 2001 to identify quality indicators for CAP and relevant evidence. Experts in the area of health services research were contacted to identify additional sources. A well-defined set of criteria was applied to evaluate each of the quality indicators. RESULTS: The systematic review of the literature and Internet Web sites yielded 44 CAP-specific quality indicators. The critical appraisal of these indicators yielded 16 indicators that were supported by a study that identified an association between quality of care and the process of care or outcome measure, were applied to enough patients to be able to detect clinically meaningful differences, were clinically and/or economically relevant, were measurable in a clinical practice setting, and were precise in their specifications. CONCLUSIONS: Many organizations recommend indicators for CAP. Indicators may serve as measures of clinical performance for clinicians and hospitals, may help in benchmarking, and may ultimately facilitate improvements in quality of care and cost reductions. However, CAP indicators often vary in their meaningfulness, scientific soundness, and interpretability of results. A set of five critical appraisal questions may assist in the evaluation of which quality indicators are most valid

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