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Reducing Surgical Complications

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Background: One of the 12 interventions that the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) recommends for its 5 Million Lives Campaign is "Reduce Surgical Complications…by reliably implementing all the changes in care recommended by the Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP)." Many surgical patients experience complications from surgery, some of which are preventable with the reliable application of evidence-based medicine. Despite promotion and dissemination of recommendations and practices, overall national compliance remains less than optimal.

Methods: IHI's 5 Million Lives Campaign is supporting the recommended practices in the SCIP to accelerate adoption for reduction in surgical complications by 25% by December 2008. Practices relate to surgical site infection prevention, prophylaxis for venousthromboembolism, continuation of beta blockers, and prevention of postoperative pneumonia. Strategies used in hospitals that have achieved improvement in the recommended SCIP measures include practices that increase reliability and minimize practice variation. These changes, along with efforts to improve teamwork and communication, are essential to reduce surgical complications.

Conclusion: Organizations that strive for high reliability in their processes should see improvement in the associated outcomes and a reduction in harm to patients.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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