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 project of the Florida Hospital Association (FHA) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) is a statewide collaboration that will focus on reducing surgical complications and improving the quality of care in participating hospitals.

“Quality care is a core value for our hospitals and surgeons, but complications still occur,” said Bruce Rueben, FHA president. Regional variations in the quality and cost of care are 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, colorectal surgery outcomes, and elderly surgery outcomes. The initiative was developed based on the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP), which 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 measures are currently under review with the National Quality Forum. 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.

“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. The Florida Hospital Association is comprised of 183 hospitals and health systems from across the state.