A coalition of federal agencies and healthcare industry groups picked up a surgical-quality improvement program begun by the Veterans Affairs Department and launched it nationally, with the goal of having every U.S. hospital that performs surgeries participating by 2006. The Surgical Care Improvement Project, run through the CMS' QualityNet data exchange, asks hospitals to submit up to 22 performance measures related to four types of post-surgical complications -- wound infections, deep-vein thrombosis, perioperative heart attack and ventilator-associated pneumonia. Complications follow an estimated 5% of surgeries, and the coalition hopes to reduce that rate by one-fourth by 2010. Some data could be made public by 2007, but which data hasn't been decided, said Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient-safety policy at the American Hospital Association, a participant in the coalition.
Also participating are the CMS, the VA, the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. -- by Joseph Conn