National Quality Forum (NQF)

The National Quality Forum (NQF) is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. that is dedicated to improving the quality of health care in the United States. To that end, the NQF embodies a three-part mission -- to set goals for performance improvement, to endorse standards for measuring and reporting on performance and to promote educational and outreach programs. NQF members include purchasers, physicians, nurses, hospitals, certification bodies and fellow quality improvement organizations.

The NQF is known for having developed a list of 28 medical errors it deemed serious reportable events (SREs). SREs are more commonly referred to as "never events" because they are largely preventable medical events and, as such, should never happen. The NQF classifies SREs according to six categories: surgical, product or device, patient protection, care management, environment, or criminal. Examples of SREs include operating on the wrong patient, leaving a foreign object in a patient after surgery and sending a newborn home with the wrong parents.

The NQF reports on the prevalence and impact of medical errors:

A 1999 Institute of Medicine report estimated that as many as 44,000 to 98,000 people die in U.S. hospitals each year as the result of medical errors - more than deaths caused by car accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS. In the intervening nine years, that statistic has not improved as much as one would hope. Patient safety measures indicate that our nation is improving in this area only 1 percent each year. The fiscal impact is also astounding: Eighteen types of medical errors account for 2.4 million extra hospital days and $9.3 billion in excess charges each year.

More on this topic

  • NQF launches query tool for quality measures.
  • Thoughts from an NQF leader on using EHR technology to report health quality measures.
  • NQF initiative targets health IT standards.
  • The official directory of NQF-Endorsed standards.
This was last updated in May 2010

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