Florida Hospitals and Surgeons Launch Ambitious Initiative to Improve Health Care Quality

Orlando, Fla. (May 18, 2010) - Florida hospitals and surgeons today launched a significant new initiative to improve patient safety and the quality of surgical care while reducing costs throughout the state. The Florida Surgical Care Initiative (FSCI), a joint initiative of the Florida Hospital Association (FHA) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and its Florida chapter, is a unique statewide collaboration that will focus on reducing surgical complications and improving the quality of care in participating hospitals. The initiative was announced today during the National Patient Safety Foundation's 12th Patient Safety Congress, taking place this week in Orlando.

"Quality care is a core value for our hospitals and surgeons, but complications still occur," said Bruce Rueben, FHA president. "In the course of health care reform discussions, Florida's commitment to high quality, affordable care was challenged by other states. By working together, we'll be able to significantly improve care, prevent complications, reduce costs and demonstrate to the nation that Florida is a leader in quality health care."

Regional variations in the quality and cost of care is a critical issue being addressed as part of continuing efforts to reform the nation's health care system. FSCI will enable Florida hospitals to proactively address this issue.

Supported in part by a grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, FSCI will focus on four key areas: surgical site and urinary tract infections (two of the most common complications), colorectal surgery outcomes (an area with higher rates of complications), and elderly surgery outcomes (since elderly patients are more likely to experience complications). The initiative was developed based on the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP), a program that uses risk-adjusted, clinical, 30-day outcomes data to review and assess outcomes and complications related to surgical care.  The use of ACS NSQIP has been shown to significantly reduce complications and deaths in participating hospitals and to help hospitals save money by preventing costly complications. Studies show complications can add $11,000 or more to the cost of care for each patient who experiences one.

"Before you can improve quality, you must first be able to accurately measure it," said Clifford Ko, MD, FACS, ACS NSQIP director. "You wouldn't want your doctor to determine the next steps in your care by looking at your billing information. Nor should we be relying on that information alone to judge the quality of the care provided. Unlike many quality improvement programs today, this initiative is based on collecting clinical information and following patients for 30 days after they leave the hospital."

The four FSCI measures were developed by the ACS in partnership with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The measures are currently under review with the National Quality Forum (NQF). If endorsed by NQF, the measures could be implemented as national quality measures by CMS. Florida hospitals will be the first in the nation to participate in this outcomes-based program.

 "As surgeons, providing the best possible patient care is central to all we do. To improve care across our state we need the right tools and we also need collective action to help all hospitals improve. FSCI provides both," said Lawrence Lottenberg, MD, FACS, Associate Professor of Surgery and Anesthesiology, Trauma Medical Director, University of Florida College of Medicine, Jacksonville, and president of the Florida Chapter of the ACS. "Based on ACS NSQIP, the FSCI will help hospitals reduce complications and improve care for our surgical patients, and it will help reduce the high costs associated with complications." 

"If we achieved the quality improvements that we know are possible, we could free up resources that could, in turn, be used to expand access to health care in our country," David Hoyt, MD, FACS, executive director of ACS added. "Florida hospitals will lead the nation in showing that proven programs like the ACS NSQIP can significantly improve patient care while reducing costs, and provide an example for other states to follow." 

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF) believes this program provides the best tools and resources to improve surgical care in our state, prevent costly complications and save lives," said Jonathan Gavras, MD, chief medical officer and vice president for BCBSF. "Working together, we can show the nation that Florida is committed to providing the highest quality health care in the country." 

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About the Florida Hospital Association

The Florida Hospital Association is comprised of 183 hospitals and health systems from across the state. Through representation and advocacy, education, and informational services, we support the mission of our members to provide the highest quality of care to the patients we serve. For more information, visit www.fha.org. 

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 www.facs.org.