Background: Internal quality control of medical performance in the interest of patient safety is not a new idea. In fact it has been implemented in varying degrees since the beginnings of medicine. Actual situation and methods: Ever since hospitals are compelled by law to apply methods of quality assurance and external quality control, the question arises as to whether this law can achieve a concrete increase in quality of patient care or whether it rather serves to support economically motivated goals of health care policies, in the sense of an increase in efficiency of performance by physicians. Seen in the light of the overall situation of hospital care, the attempt to create mandatory quality standards is problematical. A reduction of hospital beds and a decrease in the average length of hospital stay contrasts the growing number of treated patients. This presents a problem which must be compensated for, despite cutbacks in budget and personnel. Methods of quality analysis are of the implicite as well as of the explicite type. Implicite methods are based on retrospective data analysis lacking previously set standards of comparison. These methods harbor the danger of viewer-dependent subjectivity (restricted reliability). Explicite methods are based upon comparison to previously defined standards. These methods are more objective, but often fail to give consideration to individual situations (restricted validity). The infrastructure necessary in order to sensibly apply quality control in the hospitals is not yet present in Germany. The software required in order to record and analyse data is still in a stage of development in many places. Conclusion: It is of importance not to leave external quality control to politicians and economists unfamiliar with the subject matter, but rather that quality control is implemented by experts in the medical field.
|Translated title of the contribution||Quality in hospital treatment: How is it assured and who provides the guidelines?|
|Number of pages||4|
|Publication status||Published - 15.05.1997|