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Medical memo: Rating America's hospitals

Medical memo

Rating America's hospitals

When you check into a hospital, you want to be sure you'll be getting the very best care. That's always been true, but since more and more care is offered on an outpatient basis, the inpatient population has become sicker, more vulnerable, and more dependent on topnotch care.

America's medical establishment has a proud history, but it got a wake-up call in 2001 when the authoritative Institute of Medicine declared that our health care system "is currently functioning at far lower levels than it could and should." Fortunately, America's hospitals have taken measures to remedy the problem.

The first step was to develop a way to evaluate the quality of care; the next, to develop a way to correct deficiencies. It's a work in progress, but it's already proving beneficial.

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