Managing to improve quality: the relationship between accreditation standards, safety practices, and patient outcomes.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Given the trend toward eliminating reimbursement for "never events," hospital administrators are challenged to implement practices designed to prevent their occurrence. Little evidence exists, however, that patient safety practices, as evaluated using accreditation criteria, are related to the achievement of patient safety outcomes.


The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between patient safety practices, as measured by accreditation standards, and patient safety outcomes as measured by hospital rates of infections, decubitus ulcers, postoperative respiratory failure, and failure to rescue.


Secondary data were used to examine relationships between patient-safety-related accreditation standards and patient outcomes in U.S. acute care hospitals. Accreditation performance areas were reduced into subscores to represent patient safety practices. Outcome rates were calculated using the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Patient Safety Indicator software. Multivariate regression was performed to determine the significance of the relationships.


Three of four multivariate models significantly explained variance in hospital patient safety indicator rates. Accreditation standards reflecting patient safety practices were related to some outcomes but not others. Rates of infections and decubitus ulcers occurred more frequently in hospitals with poorer performance in utilizing patient safety practices, but no differences were noted in rates of postoperative respiratory failure or failure to rescue.

Practice implications

Certain adverse events, such as infections and decubiti, may be reduced by preventive protocols that are reflected in accreditation standards, whereas other events, such as failure to rescue and postoperative respiratory failure, may require multifaceted strategies that are less easily translated into protocols. Our approach may have influenced the observed associations yet represents progress toward assessing whether safety practices, as measured by accreditation standards, are related to patient outcomes.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Thornlow, DK; Merwin, E

Published Date

  • July 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 34 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 262 - 272

PubMed ID

  • 19625831

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1550-5030

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0361-6274

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/hmr.0b013e3181a16bce


  • eng