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Acad Emerg Med. 2002 Nov;9(11):1078-84.

The emerging imperative for health care quality improvement.

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  • 1National Quality Forum, Washington, DC 20005, USA.


There are widespread and growing concerns about the variable and too often inadequate quality of health care in the United States. As a result, health care quality is being questioned and subjected to scrutiny as never before. Awareness of the quality deficits, combined with rising health care expenditures and changing attitudes of payers and consumers, has given rise to a nascent but growing quality improvement movement. Multiple barriers must be surmounted by this movement, but substantive work is under way on all fronts. Emergency medicine will definitely be affected by the quality improvement movement and should quickly move forward to define and establish performance measures for high-quality emergency care in an era when chronic disease dominates the agenda. Emergency medicine should also aggressively work to operationalize a culture of quality to minimize medical errors, to practice evidence-based medicine, to translate research results into clinical practice in a timely manner, and to establish accountability mechanisms for quality improvement and clinical excellence.

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