American College of Surgeons Announces Goal to Enlist 1,000 Hospitals to its National Surgical Quality Improvement Program

Newly Launched “Inspiring Quality” Initiative Aims to Help Hospitals Across the Country Prevent Complications, Reduce Costs and Save Lives

Nearly 50 health care leaders attend first quality kickoff forum in Chicago

CHICAGO (July 18, 2011) – The American College of Surgeons (ACS) today announced its goal to enlist at least 1,000 hospitals into its respected National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®). The commitment is part of the ACS Inspiring Quality initiative launched today, an effort to raise awareness of proven models of quality improvement, coordinated care and disease management that can help improve the quality and value of health care.

The announcement was made in conjunction with the Chicago Surgical Health Care Quality Forum, an event aimed at raising awareness of quality issues and discussing quality improvement programs needed in our nation’s hospitals to reduce preventable hospital readmissions, prevent medical errors, improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. Nearly 50 Chicago health care leaders attended the event which was held at ACS’s downtown headquarters.

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) served as keynote speaker at the event, and panelists included leaders from Chicago academic medical centers, medical schools, hospitals and not-for-profit health care organizations. L. D. Britt, MD, MPH, FACS, FCCM, FRCSEng (Hon), FRCSEd (Hon), FWACS (Hon), president, ACS, kicked-off the panel discussion by asking Sen. Kirk if his colleagues in Washington D.C., understood that quality improvement programs save money as well as save lives.

“The College’s programs prove that quality can equal cost effectiveness,” said Dr. Britt. “We’re here talking about saving lives and reducing costs.”

“The American College of Surgeons has a century-long history of setting standards, measuring outcomes and using outside verification to improve the quality of care. Our quality programs are proven to prevent complications, save lives and lower costs,” said Dr. Hoyt. “If we could get ACS NSQIP into more hospitals around the country, we could prevent millions of complications, save thousands of lives and reduce costs by billions of dollars – every year.”

To encourage hospitals to collaborate and share best practices in quality improvement, ACS will host a series of community forums across the nation with health care leaders representing academic medical centers and medical schools, hospitals and not-for-profit health care associations. Following today’s forum, other locations will include California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

As part of the initiative, ACS has also released a series of videos that capture what “inspiring quality” means from the perspective of patients, surgeons and the overall industry. These videos can be found on the ACS website Additional videos will be added to the site as meetings are held across the country.

“To improve quality, hospitals and surgeons need to set and accurately measure themselves against relevant and significant standards and have the right resource infrastructure in place to treat their patients,” said Carlos Pellegrini, MD, FACS, FRCSI (Hon), Chair of the ACS Board of Regents. “But saying we want to improve quality isn’t enough – we all must be willing to work together and hold ourselves accountable for doing it. Coming together peer-to-peer and discussing best practices for quality improvement is not only beneficial from a hospital’s perspective, it’s the right thing to do for our patients.”

Coordinated quality and patient safety efforts are an important national focus with the release this year of the National Quality Strategy, led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Getting at least 1,000 hospitals into ACS NSQIP can dramatically accelerate movement toward meeting National Quality Strategy goals. Currently about 400 hospitals participate in ACS NSQIP, which is based on collecting clinical, risk-adjusted, 30-day outcomes data in a nationally benchmarked database.

Called “Best in the Nation” by the Institute of Medicine, ACS NSQIP is serving as a national model for outcomes-based quality improvement. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is currently considering five measures based on ACS NSQIP’s more than 40 measures, for potential national implementation as early as 2012.

“Over the past decade, we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t to improve health care quality,” said Dr. Ko. “We are now on the verge of significant changes in our health system. We know the ACS NSQIP methodology that has been developed and refined over the past decade is effective in improving care, and we now hope to spread these learnings and successes to more hospitals across the country.”

ACS NSQIP has been shown to help hospitals significantly reduce complications and save lives. A 2009 study in theAnnals of Surgery found participating hospitals prevent 250-500 complications and save 13-26 lives per hospital per year.1 At an average cost of $11,000 per complication, hospitals can save millions of dollars a year.

“ACS has been a national force for quality since its founding in 1913. In the current era, safe care with excellent outcomes is a major focus, building on proven quality improvement programs of the College,” said J. Michael Henderson, MD, FACS, Chief Quality Officer at the Cleveland Clinic and Chair of the ACS NSQIP Advisory Board. “ACS NSQIP is a program that leads to better patient outcomes and lower costs by reducing preventable complications. This is a program that is implemented by the clinical caregiver, uses basic best practices, and has been proven to work for our patients.”

Chicago Surgical Health Care Quality Forum Panelist Quotes:

“The Joint Commission has had a very long-standing and close partnership with the American College of Surgeons that has now entered into a new era with the creation of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare,” said Mark Chassin, MD, FACP, MPP, MPH, president, The Joint Commission. “I think the most important first step for hospitals to realize true quality improvement is for the entire leadership of the hospital – from nurses and surgeons, to executive management and in some cases, members of the board – to come together and make a commitment to higher levels of patient safety. Without this commitment from the top-down, we can’t expect it to work.”

“Mercy is a not-for-profit Catholic Hospital owned by the Sisters of Mercy with a mission to take care of everyone irrespective of their race or economic status,” said Alejandra Perez-Tamayo, MD, FACS, chief of surgery, Mercy Hospital and Medical Center. “Because of this, we count our pennies very closely. Through the close and productive relationship between the administration of the hospital and its physician leaders, ACS NSQIP was identified as a surgical quality program worth investing in. Using ACS NSQIP, Mercy has been able to identify opportunities for improvement, reduce infection rates, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and develop multidisciplinary teams and programs that develop processes for better care.” 

“As a transplant surgeon, we are subject to the highest standards of excellence and outcomes,” said Enrico Benedetti, MD, FACS, chief chair of surgery, University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago. “If these regulations and standards were applied to all other fields of medicine using a database and risk-adjusted data, patient outcomes would improve.”

“At the University of Chicago, we have been inspired by national programs endorsed by the American College of Surgeons to create a new culture of surgical quality improvement in order to optimize care, improve efficiency and lower costs,” said Jeffrey Matthews, MD, FACS, chief of surgery, University of Chicago Medical Center.

“At Children’s we’ve been using ACS NSQIP Pediatric (ACS NSQIP Peds) to measure the quality of our surgical care and are looking forward to working with the data because it’s risk-adjusted and makes an impact on identifying outcomes,” said Marleta Reynolds, MD, FACS, surgeon-in-chief, Children’s Memorial Hospital. “Our hospital will be able to use the data to provide improved quality care to children.”

“Quality is the cornerstone mission,” said Nathaniel Soper, MD, FACS, surgeon-in-chief, Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “We were an early adopter of ACS NSQIP and we knew that to improve outcomes a culture change was necessary. We’ve now seen a 30 percent reduction in claims related to surgical care and the number of malpractice claims has decreased by 80 percent.”

About the American College of Surgeons
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and to improve the care of the surgical patient. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 77,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit

1. Hall, BL et al. “Does Surgical Quality Improve in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program.” Ann Surg. 2009 Sep; 250(3):363-76.