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Impact of Intensive Care Unit Quality Assessments on Patient Outcomes

Quality assessments are increasingly being deployed in many countries to bolster the quality of care and ensure acceptable standards. In South Korea, these assessments are being carried out across various health sectors, however, evidence regarding their impact on intensive care units (ICU) remains largely insufficient. A study was recently undertaken to evaluate the influence of ICU quality assessments on structural indicators in medical institutions and the consequent in-hospital mortality rates of patients. This study sourced its data from the 2nd and 3rd ICU quality assessments conducted in 2017 and 2019. With a sample size of 72,879 patients in total, the study involved 265 institutions which partook in both assessments.

Structural indicators such as alterations in medical staff and equipment were evaluated, and in-hospital deaths were considered patient outcomes. Findings from the study indicated an increase in the number of intensivist physicians and experienced nurses during the third quality evaluation. However, there remain discrepancies in workforce numbers based on the type of medical institution. A recorded 12.0% of patients admitted during the evaluation died within the hospital. Lower in-hospital mortality was noted at the 3rd assessment, and hospitals employing intensivist physicians demonstrated reduced in-hospital deaths.

A higher number of experienced nurses correlated with reduced mortality, while a higher nurse-to-bed ratio escalated mortality rates. It was thus concluded that while ICU quality assessments improved overall structural indicators, the gap between medical institutions remained unaddressed, necessitating further interventions. It was also established that the maintenance of skilled medical personnel is crucial for better patient outcomes, warranting further research and continuous monitoring of long-term effects.


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