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Quality Defined

Defining quality health care

The now accepted definition of quality focuses on you. The Maine Quality Forum and The Maine Quality Forum Advisory Council have adopted and are committed to the following definition of high quality health care promoted by the Institute of Medicine:

Safe – avoiding injuries to patients from the care that is intended to help them.·     

Effective – providing services based on scientific knowledge to all who could benefit and refraining from providing services to those not likely to benefit (avoiding under use and overuse, respectively).·     

Patient-centered – providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.·     

Timely – reducing waits and sometimes harmful delays for both those who receive and those who give care.·     

Efficient – avoiding waste, including waste of equipment, supplies, ideas, and energy.·     

Equitable – providing care that does not vary in quality because of personal characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, geographic location, and socioeconomic status.”

Types of quality

To achieve a clearer understanding of quality health care, it is helpful to understand characteristics of quality within the categories of service quality and clinical quality.

Service quality is the term to describe the characteristics of care such as waiting times, ease of physical access, pleasant staff and clean comfortable surroundings. Service quality also includes such things as cleanliness of your hospital room and respectfulness of the person who draws your blood.

Clinical quality is the term used to describe such things as prescribing the correct medications, performing surgery as safely and appropriately as possible and involving the patient fully in their own care. It includes attributes such as the accuracy of a laboratory test, operating on the correct leg and providing enough information so that you understand your health risks or medical condition.


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