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USC University Hospital and USC/Norris Cancer Hospital Named Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers(SM)

September 29, 2008

Blue Shield of California has named both USC University Hospital and USC/Norris Cancer Hospital as Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers, focusing on complex inpatient and surgical care.

Blue Distinction(R) is a designation awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality healthcare. Building on the successful results of earlier programs focused on cardiac care, bariatric surgery and transplants, the program was recently expanded to include the designation of 85 Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers.

With plans to expand Blue Distinction into more common forms of cancer in the future, this initial phase assesses facilities on evaluation, treatment planning, complex inpatient care and major surgical treatments; all delivered by teams with distinguished expertise and subspecialty training for complex and rare cancers. The program focuses on the following six cancers, which cumulatively account for approximately 15 percent of new cancer cases annually:

— Bladder cancer

— Esophageal cancer

— Gastric cancer

— Liver cancer

— Pancreatic cancer

— Rectal cancer

“We are proud that Blue Shield of California has named both USC University Hospital and USC/Norris Cancer Hospital as Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers,” said Debbie Walsh, president and chief executive officer of USC University Hospital and USC/Norris Cancer Hospital. “Our physicians and staff work very hard to provide quality patient care, and these distinctions are evidence of the high standard of care we deliver every day.”

The evidence-based selection criteria used to evaluate facilities were developed in strategic collaboration with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network* (NCCN) and with input from a panel of expert clinicians. To be designated as a Blue Distinction Center for Complex and Rare Cancers, USC University Hospital and USC/Norris Cancer Hospital met the following selection criteria, among others posted at www.BCBS.com:

— Exceeds volume threshold for annual surgical cases treated

— Utilization of multidisciplinary team input for treatment planning, including sub-specialty trained teams

— Participation in ongoing quality management and improvement programs for cancer care

— Commitment to using clinical data registries and participating in relevant clinical research

“We commend the facilities that have been designated for treating complex and rare cancers. Blue Distinction promotes the consistent practice of evidence-based medicine,” said Allan Korn, M.D., and chief medical officer for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. “The Blues are committed to working collaboratively with physicians and hospitals to raise the overall quality of healthcare in our nation. We understand that to deliver true patient-centered care, Blue Distinction Centers often need to coordinate care following a complex surgery or primary inpatient stay with patients’ local physicians.”

About USC University Hospital & USC/Norris Cancer Hospital

USC University Hospital (USCUH), part of Tenet California, is a private, 411-bed research and teaching hospital staffed by the faculty of the renowned Keck School of Medicine of USC. USCUH offers patients the compassionate environment of a private hospital hand-in-hand with the extensive experience and research capabilities of a prominent medical school. Named in 2007 by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s best hospitals for Ophthalmology and Gynecology, USCUH is fully accredited by the Joint Commission. The hospital opened the 10-story Norris Inpatient Tower in 2007. To learn more, visit www.uscuh.com or call (323) 442-8500.

USC/Norris Cancer Hospital, part of Tenet California, provides patient care for the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of only six institutions in California designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center. This designation identifies USC/Norris, a teaching facility staffed by faculty physicians of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, as a leader in cancer treatment, research, prevention and education. USC/Norris Cancer Hospital is also fully accredited by the Joint Commission. For more information, visit www.norriscancerhospital.com, or call (323) 865-3000.




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