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Quality Digest

FDA Compliance

Call For Steering Committee Nominations: National Voluntary Consensus Standards for Emergency Care

Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2007 - 21:00

The National Quality Forum is seeking nominations for members of a steering committee for the initial phase of a project to endorse voluntary consensus standards on the quality of emergency care. All nominations must be submitted by 6:00 p.m. ET, Aug. 10, 2007.

Emergency care is an integral part of the health care delivery system. In hospitals, the emergency department accounts for approximately 10 percent of all ambulatory medical care visits in the United States. From 1994 through 2004, the number of emergency department visits increased from 93.4 million to 110.2 million visits annually, an 18 percent increase. Yet, the number of hospital emergency departments in the United States decreased by about 12.4 percent during the same period. Demand and capacity issues contribute to increased patient wait-time and decreased physician productivity, and place patients at risk for poor outcomes. A quality initiative that seeks to establish a standardized measurement and reporting system of the performance of emergency care providers and systems will effectively improve the care of patients and reduce excessive health care costs.

This NQF project seeks to identify and endorse measures for public accountability and quality improvement related to emergency care at the facility and practitioner levels. The project has been sequenced into several, interrelated phases:

  • Phase 1. Measures of emergency department transfer—as a first phase of this project, NQF will consider performance measures in a limited area, emergency department transfers, only. These measures would address the emergency care provided to patients who are transferred from an emergency department to another acute care hospital or emergency department.
  • Phase 2. Next, NQF intends to formally solicit measures that address other aspects of hospital-based emergency departments that address pressing quality issues such as patient wait-time, overcrowding, boarding, and diversions.
  • Phase 3. NQF is currently seeking funding to expand the third phase of this project to include the full array of emergency-based services (e.g., pre-hospital emergency medical services; disaster; and all-hazard emergency planning, preparedness, and response) and to create standards for endorsed practices and measures that address the quality of emergency care input, throughput, and output in the following key areas:
    • Emergency calls and 911 emergency medical services/dispatch
    • Triage, treatment, and transport (air/ambulance) of patients
    • Unscheduled ambulatory care for urgent and/or complex conditions
    • Hospital-based emergency and trauma center care
    • Prompt access to surgery, intensive care, and inpatient care
    • Disaster and all-hazard planning, preparedness, and response.

The steering committee will oversee the development of a draft consensus report, including recommendation of which measures should be endorsed as consensus standards for emergency department transfer care. The steering committee, comprising 8-10 individuals, will represent the range of stakeholder perspectives, including consumers, purchasers, quality improvement professionals, researchers, and health care system professionals possessing relevant knowledge and/or experience in quality assessment of emergency department transfer care. Steering committee members shouldn’t be involved in the development of candidate measures as outlined in NQF’s “Conflict of Interest” policy. All potential steering committee members must disclose any current and past activities during the nomination process.

As with all NQF projects, the steering committee will work with NQF staff to develop specific project plans, provide advice about the subject, ensure input is obtained from relevant stakeholders, review draft products, and recommend specific measures and research priorities to NQF members for consideration under the consensus development process.

For full details on the nomination process, conflict of interest guidelines, and the nomination form, visit www.qualityforum.org/news/more-news.asp#071307.


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For 40 years Quality Digest has been the go-to source for all things quality. Our newsletter, Quality Digest, shares expert commentary and relevant industry resources to assist our readers in their quest for continuous improvement. Our website includes every column and article from the newsletter since May 2009 as well as back issues of Quality Digest magazine to August 1995. We are committed to promoting a view wherein quality is not a niche, but an integral part of every phase of manufacturing and services.