How Measures Can Work: Safety 


Though far from enough, we are seeing some remarkable advances in patient safety nationally. That progress demonstrates the power of performance measures to drive improvement of healthcare. Almost one in six NQF-endorsed measures directly addresses an issue of patient safety, on topics ranging from hand washing to administering antibiotics. Without question, these measures have contributed strongly to the significant reductions in hospital-based infections nationwide.

Measures can best succeed when they are backed by all involved in healthcare, reported to the public, and used for continuous improvement. Other tools may complement them and help them do their job. For instance, NQF also endorses Safe Practices, which offer guidance to practitioners on processes that support safe care.

As an example, there are safe practices for a number of healthcare-associated infections that offer improvement strategies to reduce the number of infections. NQF-endorsed outcomes measures allow those improvements to then be tracked. A performance measure may then be developed to help providers see how often they carry out such a practice. NQF’s list of Serious Reportable Events (SREs) is another proven tool supporting patient safety.

SREs are serious adverse events that hospitals can be required to report publicly. More than half of the states now use NQF’s list as the basis for reporting to the public on hospitals’ performance. NQF’s list has become the basis for decisions by the federal government about whether to pay for specific events affecting patients covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

Learn how measures will serve our future.