Surgical Quality Program Cuts Complication Rates


Surgical quality program participation can cut complication and mortality rates. The results of a recent study has been published in the September issue of the journal Annals of Surgery.

The American College of Surgeons' National Surgical Quality Improvement Program involved 118 hospitals. Data gathered from the hospital 2006-2007 revealed that 66% of the hospitals had an improved risk-adjusted mortality rates, and 82% lowered their number of surgical complications.

The ACS's initiative is modeled after a successful Veterans Health Administration program developed in the 1990s. The program helps hospitals collect and analyze clinical, risk-adjusted outcomes data so surgeons can spot potential problems.


The program costs $35,000 annually. Each hospital has to train someone to review and properly code all the data by surgeon, type of surgery, patient condition and more. This in turn is meant to give the hospital and doctors the ability to fine-tune protocols and procedures to yield improved outcomes.

The study reports the 118 participating hospitals participating cut their complication rates by an average of 11% and slashed mortality rates by 18%.

Currently, more than 250 hospitals have signed up for the college's surgical quality project. If each has similar improvements, and the others continue to improve, then the cost savings to healthcare will more than offset the program costs. One surgical site infection can cost $30,000.

"Does Surgical Quality Improve in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program: An Evaluation of All Participating Hospitals," abstract, Annals of Surgery, September 2009 - Volume 250 - Issue 3 - pp 363-376.

Written by Ramona Bates, MD
Little Rock, Arkansas
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