October 21, 2010

Sharing Leads To Surgical Complications Drop

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Michigan is known for quite a few things, most notably the 5 Great Lakes.  However, a recent study observing the hospitals in the Water Winter Wonderland found something fresher than their streams around the corner that could perhaps benefit the entire medical community.

The Michigan Surgical Quality Collaborative, a group of 16 hospitals led by the University of Michigan Health System, reported reduced surgical complications by nearly 10 percent at a time when the rest of the nation saw no change in complication risks.   This reduction resulted from something as simple as pooling data and sharing information regarding what keeps patients safe.  The fewer patients suffering from ventilator-associated pneumonias alone "“ among the 300,000 surgical patients studied "“ could save an estimated $13 million a year.

"The collaboration of hospitals in terms of identifying and disseminating information about best practices is actually a much more effective way of improving quality than just relying on each hospital alone to come up with what they think is a way to improve quality," which study author Darrell A. Campbell Jr., M.D., professor of surgery and chief medical officer at the University of Michigan Health System, was quoted as saying.  "In other words, sharing ideas is important and it's effective."

The backbone of the partnership is support Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Michigan.  With Blue Care Network paying hospitals to participate in addition to covering the cost of the technology needed to evaluate the data, sharing information and moreover working towards efficiency and better health care results is possible. Individual hospital results are not reported to BCBS.  Campbell states that it's an arrangement that inspires utter collaboration beyond competition.

Authors estimate that it would take merely a 1.8 percent reduction in complications a year for three years to counterbalance the cost of supporting the pay for participation program, given the high cost of surgical complications.

"If this system was adopted nationally, not just in Michigan, I think you would find a greatly accelerated pace of surgical quality improvement," Campbell concludes.

Inspiration has struck surgeons across the nation.  Tennessee and upper New York have already launched collaboratives, whereas Pennsylvania, Virginia and Illinois are working towards a similar plan aimed at collaborating and conquering.

SOURCE: Archives of Surgery, October 2010