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A comprehensive definition of hospital quality assurance would be as follows. The maximum achievable result for every patient, the prevention of iatrogenic (physician-induced) complications and expert attention to the patient and the family in a manner that is cost effective and well documented.
Traditionally, doctors have always enjoyed a great deal of freedom in their practices. Till some time back, the techniques for monitoring and assessing the quality of care they provided in the hospital were based on internal peer reviews. But with the growth of consumer awareness movements, public concern of health care priorities, governmental concerns about rocketing healthcare costs, new hospital accreditation guidelines and financial constraints of health institutions, hospital quality assurance has become compulsory for hospitals to project the quality of care, they provide.
Role Of Medical Staff In Quality Improvement Programs
Physicians and hospital administrators now face the challenge of setting up vigorous and comprehensive systems of quality monitoring. In addition, they must also know how to avoid incidents that inhibit the implementation of such quality systems. Evaluation is especially important to detect and rectify - as early as possible - any negative result of the introduction of new measures to cut down costs.
Implementation of quality enhancement program in a hospital does not imply that a foreign authority specialized in hospital quality assurance has been authorized to challenge the professional decisions of physicians or administrators. It also does not signify the introduction of yet another bureaucratic policy that would divert attention, time and energy from the most important duty of caring for patients. In reality, quality monitoring simply refers to the systematic documentation and analysis of specific activities in the health care industry. In fact, the conformance of a hospital to quality standards is a true reflection of the overall quality of care they provide.
In spite of good intentions of quality checking, there are plenty of internal factors that impede the implementation of hospital quality assurance policies. For instance, some clinical and administrative personnel are still reluctant to summarize and document discussions held during death reviews or medical rounds due to potential legal complications. Obviously, if hospital quality management has to achieve its defined goals of identifying and rectifying issues and improving the quality of care, the personnel must feel comfortable with documenting evaluation activities.
The success of all hospital quality programs depend on the interest and commitment of the administrators, physicians, nurses and paramedical staff. A lack of interest is far more damaging than any technical error in the evaluative process. Thus coordinators of hospital quality assurance courses must select strategies that evoke interest and commitment and does not burden the staff with activities they do not believe in.
Towards Effective Implementation Of Quality Programs
The hospital administration must understand that quality monitoring activities are an indispensable part of quality management goals. Therefore adequate personnel and financial support must be provided to ensure training of the medical staff in matters of quality guarantee. Ideally, quality monitoring activities must be seen as routine exercises to be performed with dedication and diligence and not as burdensome tasks that have to be carried out since it has been made compulsory.
Hospital quality assurance activities extend beyond the usual sources of information like medical charts or service records. With additional sources – like resource allocation, rates of utilization and results of consumer surveys that provide insight into the broader dimensions of medical care, it is possible to enhance the value of these quality programs.