U.S. Hospitals Get Better at Treating Heart Attacks, Pneumonia

U.S. hospitals are doing a more effective job treating patients for heart attacks, pneumonia and surgical procedures, an independent healthcare accreditation organization said in a report released today.

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Hospitals last year were about 10% more likely to provide heart-attack treatment such as aspirin at a patient's arrival, and beta-blockers at discharge, than they were in 2002, according to the fifth-annual report from Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based Joint Commission. Treatment for conditions such as pneumonia and children's asthma improved at an even faster clip, said the organization, which culled data from more than 3,000 accredited hospitals.

The report is part of an effort on the part of Joint Commission to establish specific accountability guidelines within its accreditation standards by 2012.

The study also revealed that hospitals needed to improve at procedures, such as providing fibrinolytic therapy (i.e. medication to clear up blood clots) within 30 minutes of arrival to heart attack patients, and giving antibiotics to intensive care unit pneumonia patients within 24 hours of arrival.