Objective Quantitative studies have shown the various benefits for having accreditation in hospitals. However, neither of these explored the general conditions before applying for an accreditation. To close this gap, this study aimed to investigate the possible association between joining an accreditation programme with various hospital characteristics. Design A cross-sectional study was implemented using the databases of the 2013 Hungarian hospital survey and of the Hungarian State Treasury. Setting Public general hospitals in Hungary. Participants The analysis involved 44 public general hospitals, 14 of which joined the preparatory project for a newly developed accreditation programme. Main outcome measures The outcomes included the percentage of compliance in quality management, patient information and identification, internal professional regulation, safe surgery, pressure sore prevention, infection control, the opinions of the heads of quality management regarding the usefulness of quality management and clinical audits, and finally, the total debt of the hospital per bed and per discharged patient. Results According to our findings, the general hospitals joining the preparatory project of the accreditation programme performed better in four of the six investigated activities, the head of quality management had a better opinion on the usefulness of quality management, and both the debt per bed number and the debt per discharged patient were lower than those who did not join. However, no statistically significant differences between the two groups were found in any of the examined outcomes. Conclusions The findings suggest that hospitals applying for an accreditation programme do not differ significantly in characteristics from those which did not apply. This means that if in the future the accredited hospitals become better than other hospitals, then the improvement could be solely contributed to the accreditation.
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