Norwegian hospitals and their leaders are required by law to engage in quality assurance. We wanted to study to what extent the heads of hospital departments were actually engaged in such activities.
Data were collected by questionnaires sent to heads of hospital departments in Norway (n = 657), of whom 567 (86%) responded.
Only 23% of those interviewed prior to their appointment had been asked about experience in quality assurance, less than 30% had written instructions for their work, and only about 40% received regular follow-up from the hospital administration. The majority registered complaints and mistakes, and was engaged in teaching quality assurance. 58% of the heads of small departments and 73% of those of large departments reported that quality in general suffered because of the demands for higher clinical productivity.
Most heads of hospital departments in Norway are engaged in quality assurance work, but the study indicates that hospital administration attaches little importance to this type of work.