Thursday, February 02, 2012

Volunteers improve care and save money

An article in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons documents the clinical improvements achieved by a collaborative of surgeons from 10 Tennessee hospitals.  The group hypothesized that using the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) system to share surgical process and outcomes data would bring about changes in patient surgical outcomes.  They did the work, analyzed the results, shared stories, and made good progress.  Here's part of the summary, comparing about 14,000 cases in one year to a similar number in the next year:

-- A 19% reduction in superficial surgical site infections;
-- A 15% reduction in being on ventilator longer than 48 hours;
-- A 60% reduction in graft/prosthesis/flap failure;
-- A 25% reduction in  acute renal failure; and
-- A 34% reduction in wound disruption. 

The group figures, too, that over $2 million in costs per 10,000 general and vascular surgery cases were avoided -- demonstrating again the virtuous cycle between quality improvement and financial benefit.

Here's a conclusion that I really like: 

Although the mechanisms for these changes are likely multifactorial, the collaborative establishes communication, process improvement, and frank discussion among the members as best practices are identified and shared and standardized processes are adopted. 

Let's join Davy Crockett (above), the TimesFreePress, and other Tennesseans in offering a salute to these doctors and their OR teams!


Anonymous said...

Pretty impressive results for one year. And all from just looking at the problem and talking to each other. It's not so hard.


Non-US reader said...

This post is great - but I need to ask for translation/clarification about what is meant by volunteer. I've been assuming this mean docs not employed by an institution, but is that a true assumption?

Paul Levy said...

Tennessee's nickname is "The Volunteer State".