National Quality Forum Provides Key Recommendations to Improve Quality in Emergency Care 

JUN 27, 2019

CONTACT: Proof Strategies

National Quality Forum Provides Key Recommendations to Improve Quality in Emergency Care
The nation’s leading resource driving measurable health improvement releases recommendations related to traumatic injuries, healthcare system readiness, and chief complaints to improve emergency care

– This month, the National Quality Forum (NQF) released a series of guides and recommendations to improve the resiliency of our nation’s healthcare system and the health outcomes of all patients receiving emergency care. These evidence-based recommendations for healthcare system readiness, trauma care, and chief complaint-based measurement will provide healthcare delivery systems with standardized methods of measuring, evaluating, and improving emergency care and patient outcomes.

“Patient visits to emergency departments make up a quarter of all visits within the U.S. hospital system. The readiness of healthcare systems to respond to disasters, the timeliness and quality of care for traumatic injuries, and the quality of data used to report chief complaints are issues that touch the lives of people in communities across this nation every day,” said Elisa Munthali, Senior Vice President of Quality Measurement, NQF. “NQF is grateful for the leadership and support of the Department of Health and Human Services to advance initiatives that will improve the quality of emergency care.”

The three reports cover:

Healthcare System Readiness – All populations and communities are susceptible to emergencies and disasters. In partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), NQF convened a diverse group of experts to improve the readiness of healthcare systems in communities throughout the nation in the event of national or regional emergencies. The expert committee proposes a Healthcare System Readiness Framework to help delivery systems prepare for, mitigate, react to, and recover from a wide spectrum of emergency conditions. Given the lack of readiness-focused measures, the report recommends measure concepts that can be further developed into an actionable, all-hazards measurement system to help assess the readiness of healthcare systems to respond to and recover from disasters and emergencies such as bioterrorism, disease outbreaks, and inclement weather, among others.

Trauma Outcomes – Traumatic injuries result in 39 million emergency visits and 12.3 million hospital admissions every year. Despite their significant impact on hospital emergency departments, a lack of population-level measures and inconsistent definitions of regional trauma networks limit the ability of healthcare systems to comprehensively assess the quality of trauma care. In partnership with HHS, the NQF Population-Based Trauma Outcomes Committee developed a series of recommendations to help promote shared accountability across relevant stakeholders and accelerate quality improvement in trauma care. The recommendations emphasize the importance of combining patient-level data from electronic health records (EHR) systems and other sources, matching trauma patients with the appropriate level of care, and collaborating across sectors to improve coordination and planning of trauma care.

Chief Complaint-Based Quality of Emergency Care – Approximately a quarter of all acute care visits in the U.S. take place in hospital emergency departments (EDs), where a majority of care provided is driven by the patient’s chief complaint, or the most significant symptom or sign of illness. With support from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and ASPR, NQF developed recommendations to address the challenge of appropriately capturing and categorizing ED visits to improve the quality of care processes. The recommendations include a call for a standardized vocabulary to improve data quality and actionable analysis, as well as advance electronic clinical quality measures.

Please visit the respective links for more information on the NQF reports related to Trauma Outcomes, Health System Readiness or Chief Complaint-Based Quality of Emergency Care. For additional details on NQF, please click here.


About the National Quality Forum:
The National Quality Forum (NQF) works with members of the healthcare community to drive measurable health improvements together. NQF is a not-for-profit, membership-based organization that gives all healthcare stakeholders a voice in advancing quality measures and improvement strategies that lead to better outcomes and greater value. Learn more at