Based on a talk given at a session of the American Public Health Association annual meeting entitled "Health Administration and Social Sciences: A Working Partnership," this paper reviews some issues in assessing the quality of medical care and discusses some practical aspects of implementing a formal quality assurance program. Attention is directed to problems in focusing a quality assurance effort and in identifying problems warranting attention by such a program. The different dimensions of criteria by which quality can be defined are explored, and data sources pertinent to the main types of criteria (structural variables, process measures, and patient outcomes) are noted. Examples of criteria that have been used in program evaluation and research are offered.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.
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