Hospital teamwork improves surgical outcomes, saves $2M

Hospitals in Tennessee achieved better surgical outcomes and saved millions of dollars after participating in a regional quality collaborative, according to a study published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Thanks to teamwork among 10 hospitals that joined the Tennessee Surgical Quality Collaborative (TSQC), coordinated by the American College of Surgeons' National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, quality of care improved with lower rates of acute renal failure and surgical site infections. Those improvements led to almost $2.2 million in net savings per 10,000 general and vascular procedures, according to the study.

"We demonstrated that hospitals in a collaborative can greatly improve their quality by sharing data, comparing results, and evaluating best practices and process improvement approaches with their peers," study author Joseph B. Cofer, professor of surgery and surgery residency program director at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine-Chattanooga, said in a statement.

Because 10,000 cases account for only one-fourth of the total general and vascular surgery cases performed at TSQC hospitals in 2009 and 2010, applying the collaborative approach to all cases would bump the total cost savings to more than $8 million.

The industry continues to embrace collaborative efforts between healthcare providers, especially in light of research last year that found increasing physician-nurse teamwork helped reduce surgery-related complications and operating room teams (made of up surgeons, anesthesia professionals, RNs and surgical technologists) can cut costs and improve quality.

For more information:
- here's the study abstract
- read the press release