The National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report released in October is the first issue of this annual report that offers a look-back at the effects of COVID-19 on trends in the health of Americans and the health system.
Key findings include a decline in life expectancy, with disproportionate effect on communities of color; the arrival of COVID-19 as the third leading cause of death; and disruptions in the health care workforce. The number of workers in ambulatory settings quickly recovered from a sharp decline at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, but staffing levels in hospitals and nursing homes and residential settings did not. The decline — 2% in hospitals and 12% in residential/nursing homes — was particularly pronounced in professions that do not require higher levels of education.
Each annual report, compiled by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, provides a detailed view of trends in the quality of care received by Americans and disparities in care experienced by demographic characteristics such as race, age, gender, income and community size. More than 440 measures, with data from federal and state sources, appear in the 2022 report, chartbooks, appendices and other materials.
Patient safety measures in the 2022 report that showed some improvement since 2019 include urinary tract infections and pressure ulcers in nursing home residents. Management of oral medications for home health care patients improved overall, but the report shows a decline in the number of home health patients whose mediation reconciliation included over-the-counter medicines as well as prescriptions.