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For Release:
September 12, 2005

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Gretchen Michael or Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160

New Jersey's Second Performance Report Shows Hospitals Providing Patients Higher Quality Care


TRENTON -- New Jersey hospitals delivered higher quality care to heart attack and pneumonia patients last year than in 2003, surpassing national averages in nearly all measures, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D, J.D. announced today in releasing the second annual hospital performance report.

At a press conference at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Pomona, Dr. Jacobs also announced a joint effort with the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy and the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) to help selected hospitals further improve their quality of care.  The  Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey is funding the initiative.

New Jersey 2005 Hospital Performance Report examines how frequently 82 hospitals used widely recognized best practices in treating more than 61,000 patients with heart attack or pneumonia in 2004.  These tests and treatments – such as quickly giving aspirin to heart attack patients – are considered the nationally recognized standard of care.

“The report shows that hospital care statewide is clearly getting better, and quite rapidly in some cases,” Commissioner Jacobs said.  “However, hospitals are still missing too many opportunities to give the kind of care that can improve health and save lives.

“Making sure every patient receives high quality care is one of my highest priorities,” Dr.  Jacobs added.  “This year, I have visited many hospitals to talk about quality and review data on each facility’s performance.  I will continue to personally bring this message to hospitals around the state.” 

According to the performance report released today, New Jersey improved its overall scores for heart attack and pneumonia care.  Scores also increased for each of eight specific measures of care.

Heart attack scores were based on the percentage of eligible patients given aspirin on arrival and on discharge, beta blocker on arrival and on discharge, and an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor at discharge.  Pneumonia scores were based on the percentage of eligible patients whose oxygen levels were checked within 24 hours of arrival, who received antibiotics within four hours of arrival, and who were screened for pneumococcal vaccination and were immunized, if appropriate. 

Overall, hospitals continued to score higher in caring for heart attack patients than in pneumonia care, although the gap in scores narrowed in 2004.

The top 10 percent of hospitals scored at least 98 percent for administering the correct heart attack treatments, compared with 97 percent in 2003.  The top 10 percent of hospitals scored at least 92 percent, compared with 84 percent the previous year, for administering the correct pneumonia treatments.

Most hospitals either improved their performance from 2003 to 2004, or maintained it. Hospitals ranking in the bottom quarter in 2003 showed the greatest gains last year, on average raising the heart attack score nine percentage points and the pneumonia score 13 points.

To compare New Jersey performance with the nation, the department also examined average scores in all eight quality measures.  In 2004, New Jersey exceeded the national average in five measures and matched the national average in the remaining three.  In 2003, New Jersey was below average in two measures and scored above the national average in the othes.

In all heart attack treatment measures, New Jersey also achieved a larger percentage of improvement in 2004 than did the nation.  For example, for the measure of administering ACE inhibitors at discharge, New Jersey improved twice as much – six percent to the nation’s three percent. 

The most dramatic difference was in a pneumonia measure -- screening patients for pneumococcal vaccination.  New Jersey improved 44 percent, compared with the nation’s 29 percent. The vaccine can prevent or reduce the risk of complications of pneumonia caused by bacteria. 

 New Jersey’s performance report stimulates hospitals to make and sustain quality improvements by providing detailed information on the appropriate use of proven treatments at each hospital in the state,” said Maureen Bueno, Ph.D., R.N., Senior Vice President for Organizational Performance at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, and co-chair of the department’s Quality Improvement Advisory Committee.

QIAC, which advises the department on quality issues, is a 25-member panel that includes hospital, physician, nurse, pharmacist, university, payer and consumer representatives.

Later this fall, Rutgers, NJHA and the department will begin working with a small group of hospitals to help them improve their performance measures in the area of caring for patients with heart failure – a condition that will be included in next year’s hospital performance report. The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey awarded Rutgers a $125,000 grant for the first year of this project.  Hospitals will receive free training and technical assistance from experts in hospital quality convened by NJHA.    

The performance measures used in the New Jersey report were developed by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO).  JCAHO is an independent, not-for-profit organization that evaluates and accredits health care organizations and programs nationwide.

An online version of the New Jersey performance report is available at  Consumers may view individual hospital profiles, compare the performance of various hospitals, and make comparisons by county and region.  There is also information on New Jersey health care resources and how to choose a health care provider.  Both web and print versions of the report provide helpful consumer advice on rights and responsibilities, as well as information about heart attack, pneumonia and their treatment.

To obtain a copy of the report, contact the department’s Office of Health Care Quality Assessment, Division of Health Care Quality and Oversight, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services by mail at P.O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360, by phone at (800) 418-1397, or by fax at (609) 530-7478.

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