Health-care system experiences 'quality gaps'

March 1, 2005

When it comes to the quality of care provided to patients, there is wide variation or gaps within the health-care system, according to a study by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

When it comes to the quality of care provided to patients, there is wide variation or gaps within the health-care system, according to a study by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. These "quality gaps," including at least two in ob/gyn care, led to more than 79,000 avoidable deaths and added an estimated $1.8 million in costs. The quality gap, according to NCQA, is the difference between the national average for a given clinical measure and the performance of the top 10% of health plans, reported Medical Economics (11/19/04).

Looking at specific clinical measures, the study found that the variation in the quality of care for breast cancer screening led to as many as 1,000 avoidable deaths and $48 million in avoidable costs. The differences in prenatal care led to as many as 1,400 avoidable deaths. Likewise, the discrepancy in cervical cancer screening led to as many as 800 avoidable deaths. The avoidable costs of these last two clinical measures were not available.