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Terms we use about quality

Quality information can be confusing. We've provided this glossary to explain some medical terms and various quality and patient safety organizations and initiatives.

ACE inhibitor—Any of a group of antihypertensive drugs that relax arteries and promote renal excretion of salt and water by inhibiting the activity of an angiotension converting enzyme

Acute myocardial infarction—Severe spasm of the middle muscular layer of the heart wall typically resulting from the partial or complete blocking of a coronary artery; may be marked by sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and loss of consciousness; sometimes results in death.

Angioplasty—A type of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in which a balloon is inflated to open a clogged blood vessel in the heart.

Atherectomy—A type of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in which a blade or laser cuts through and removed the blockage in the heart blood vessel

Beta-blocker—Any of a group of drugs that combine with and block the activity of a beta-receptor to decrease the heart rate and force of contractions and lower high blood pressure and that are used especially to treat hypertension, angina pectoris, and ventricular and supraventricular arrhythmias

Blood Culture— A test showing what disease organisms are present in a person's blood.

Cardiology—The study of the heart and its action and diseases.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that evaluates the quality of care in hospitals, particularly the care received by patients who are receiving Medicare or Medicaid. Legacy reports its performance to CMS. Meeting and exceeding the measures CMS initiates ensures that patients receive quality care and that their healthcare providers receive government reimbursement for the care of these patients. Learn more about CMS.

Five Million Lives Campaign—An initiative of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) to prevent 5 million avoidable hospital deaths by December 2008.

Heart Failure—A condition in which the heart is unable to pump blood at an adequate rate or in adequate volume.

HIPAA—The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law. Title I protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs. Title II addresses the security and privacy of health data and establishes national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health plans, and employers. See federal information about HIPAA.

Hospital Compare—A website that provides information for adults, including people with Medicare, on how well the hospitals in their area care for all their adult patients with certain medical conditions. Visit the Hospital Compare website.

Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA)— The Hospital Quality Alliance is a public-private collaboration between several national healthcare government and nonprofit organizations. It was established to promote reporting on hospital quality of care and to share hospital quality information with patients, families and communities in a unified, consistent manner. The HQA consists of organizations that represent consumers, hospitals, doctors, employers, accrediting organizations, and Federal agencies The HQA currently gathers and reports information on three common and serious medical conditions: heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia. The HQA reports this information on a website called Hospital Compare. Learn more about the Hospital Quality Alliance

Internal medicine—A branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of nonsurgical diseases.

Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) —A not-for-profit organization driving the improvement of health by advancing the quality and value of health care. Founded in 1991 and based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, IHI is a reliable source of energy, knowledge, and support for a never-ending campaign to improve health care worldwide. The Institute helps accelerate change in healthcare by cultivating promising concepts for improving patient care and turning those ideas into action. IHI offers comprehensive products and services. Learn more about the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

The Joint Commission—The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization, governed by a board that includes physicians, nurses, and consumers, which sets the standards by which health care quality is measured in the US and around the world. The Joint Commission requires accredited healthcare providers to collect and submit performance data on a full set of core quality of care standards. It surveys hospitals regularly to evaluate their performance against these standards and publishes the information to the public.

In 2003, The Joint Commission established National Patient Safety Goals (NPSGs) to encourage improved patient safety in areas identified as priorities by a national consensus of healthcare organizations and professionals. Legacy is continuously implementing these goals. Search The Joint Commission website for reports on hospital performance. 

National data registry—A collection of clinical data collected using a disciplined process and coordinated by a specialized healthcare association or organization, such as the Society for Thoracic Surgeons.

National hospital measures—The National Hospital Measures are 17 quality measures used to evaluate how well hospitals are performing on recommended treatments for three medical conditions: heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia. The measures were developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Hospital Quality Alliance and are reported on the Hospital Compare website.

National Quality Forum (NQF)—The National Quality Forum is a private, not-for-profit membership organization created to develop and implement a national strategy for healthcare quality measurement and reporting. The mission of the NQF is to improve American healthcare through endorsement of consensus-based national standards for measurement and public reporting of healthcare performance data that provide meaningful information about whether care is safe, timely, beneficial, patient-centered, equitable and efficient. Learn more about NQF.

Oncology—The study of tumors, especially cancerous tumors.

Patient Voice—Patient Voice is a Legacy initiative that allows us to really hear the experiences our customers have in our facilities. The survey questionnaire asks patients and their families what they liked—and didn't like—about their healthcare experience and what aspects of care they value most. The survey tool was developed by Healthstream and allows Legacy to compare our scores with those of other hospitals and health systems across the country. Learn more about Patient Voice.

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)—Procedures to open partially blocked blood vessels, either by through the administration of medication or by surgically passing a balloon catheter through the skin, into the vessel, and through the vessel to the site of the blockage; including angioplasty, athererctomy and stenting.

Pneumonia—A disease of the lungs that is characterized especially by inflammation and consolidation of lung tissue followed by resolution, is accompanied by fever, chills, cough, and difficulty in breathing, and is caused chiefly by infection.

Protected health information (PHI)—Individually identifiable information about you, your health insurance or health care services you may have or want to receive.

Quality measure—A quality measure is medical information from patient records converted into a rate or percentage that shows how well hospitals care for their patients. Quality measures give you information about how well a hospital provides care for some but not all of their patients. You can use this quality information to help you compare hospitals.

Sentinel event—According to the Joint Commission, a sentinel event is "an unexpected occurrence involving death or serious physical or psychological injury, or the risk thereof.  Serious injury specifically includes loss of limb or function. The phrase "or the risk thereof" includes any process variation for which a recurrence would carry a significant chance of a serious adverse outcome. Such events are called "sentinel" because they signal the need for immediate investigation and response."

Stenting—A type of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in which a small wire tube, called a stent, is placed in a clogged blood vessel in the heart to hold it open.

Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP)—A national quality partnership of organizations focused on improving surgical care by significantly reducing surgical complications.The SCIP goal is to reduce the incidence of surgical complications nationally by 25 percent by the year 2010.

Thrombolytic therapy— Treatment administered, usually medication, to help break up blood clots in blood vessels.