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Health Quality 'Report Cards' May Inflate Grades, Rand Says

FEBRUARY 22, 2006 -- "Report cards" that rate quality of health care may be giving grades that are too high, says a new study by the Rand Corporation. Those report cards typically examine claims and other administrative data rather than actual medical records to measure what percentage of patients treated by certain hospitals or doctors receive recommended types of care.

Examining actual medical records for 399 patients, the study found that 55 percent of them received recommended care, while the administrative data showed that 83 percent did. Moving to computerized medical records would help ensure more accurate grading that could be carried out efficiently, researchers concluded.

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