With a background in the manufacturing realm, a recent newsbyte about the medical marketplace really resonated and alarmed me. It was a release describing the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, or NSQIP, and how some participating hospitals saw improvements in both patient mortality and morbidity to the tune of over 500 fewer complications per year.

Supported by the American College of Surgeons, NSQIP essentially establishes a structure of review and peer-driven assessments focused on improving patient care and procedure performance. All participating hospitals, regardless of size and or location, saw measurable and quantifiable quality of care improvements.

The targeted complications not only have obvious and concerning impacts on patients, but also cost the hospital a great deal when examining expenses associated with the related care and doctor hours that must be allocated to these occurrences. The combination of these two dynamics is what made the last sentence raise all sorts of red flags; “Nearly 250 hospitals participate in the program.”

That total represents less than five percent of the total number of hospitals in the country, and a ratio that I simply don’t understand. In checking out the process involved with participation at, I can appreciate the investment that is needed in terms of time and resources – which are now especially at a premium.

However, in the manufacturing realm recent recessionary factors have not halted quality control efforts, but rather placed a greater premium on them as U.S. factories know they must produce a better product in order to compete with foreign price points. Granted, the competitive issue is a non-factor in the hospital realm, but cost controls relative to quality certainly are today and always will be.

Additionally, tens of thousands of U.S. manufacturers have implemented Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma and Continuous Improvement strategies to help improve workflow efficiencies and output quality. NSQIP seems to be a program that offers hospitals the opportunity achieve some of these same goals. So why wouldn’t more hospitals, where quality of care and procedural excellence is always placed on a pedestal, participate in such a program?

It’s a question that I don’t have answer for, but I hope each of you will consider and help me to understand.

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