Health Care Quality Improving, While Some Americans Still Lack Access

The quality of U.S. health care is slowly improving, while access to health care remains a great challenge for some Americans, especially racial and ethnic minorities and low-income people, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s newly-published 2012 National Healthcare Quality Report and National Healthcare Disparities Report.

The reports note that “urgent attention” is needed to ensure continued improvements in the quality of diabetes care, maternal and child health care, and treatment for conditions such as pressure ulcers and blood clots. Included in this year’s reports are new measures on early and adequate prenatal care, colorectal cancer screening, national rate of hospital-acquired conditions, standardized infection ratios at the state level for central line-associated bloodstream infections, and patient safety culture hospital survey findings.

The reports’ quality and access data predate passage of the Affordable Care Act, which is now addressing many of the issues raised in the reports.  The reports are available online at http://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/nhqrdr/index.html. To order a print copy, email ahrqpubs@ahrq.hhs.gov or call 1-800-358-9295.

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