It may have been coincidental, but just as the ink was drying on President Bush's signature on a new law on medical error reporting, a nationwide recruitment drive was launched to encourage hospitals to improve surgical outcomes.
The goals of the Surgical Care Improvement Project, or SCIP, are to have every hospital where surgical procedures are done monitor and report its performance based on at least one of four sets of clinical quality measures by the end of 2006, and to reduce surgical complications rates 25% by 2010.
The coalition includes the American Hospital Association, the CMS, the Veterans Health Administration, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and a number of other public and private organizations.
There will be no charge for member hospitals to participate in the SCIP, said Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient-safety policy at the AHA. Hospitals' costs will be limited to expenses involved in abstracting the data and implementing improvement procedures.
The four program target areas are post-surgical wound infections, deep-vein thrombosis, perioperative heart attacks and post-surgical ventilator-associated pneumonia. There are 22 quality measures.
Data will be abstracted from clinical records and submitted to the CMS for processing and analysis through the QualityNet Exchange, or Q-Net, according to Foster. Hospitals will be able to load data and continuously monitor their results via secure Internet access to Q-Net. Medicare quality-improvement organizations also will have access to the data, some of which could be made public by 2007. Decisions on what elements of the data to publish have not been made, she said.
The SCIP is based on a program pioneered in the VA more than a decade ago, broadened by the American College of Surgeons in 2001 and modified by the CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2003. The enrollment effort to join the SCIP was kicked off at the AHA's Health Forum in San Diego July 28.