Does surgical quality improve in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program: an evaluation of all participating hospitals

Ann Surg. 2009 Sep;250(3):363-76. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3181b4148f.


Background/objective: The National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) has demonstrated quality improvement in the VA and pilot study of 14 academic institutions. The objective was to show that American College of Surgeons (ACS)-NSQIP helps all enrolled hospitals.

Methods: ACS-NSQIP data was used to evaluate improvement in hospitals longitudinally over 3 years (2005-2007). Improvement was defined as reduction in risk-adjusted "Observed/Expected" (O/E) ratios between periods with risk adjustment held constant. Multivariable logistic regression-based adjustment was performed and included indicators for procedure groups. Additionally, morbidity counts were modeled using a negative binomial model, to estimate the number of avoided complications.

Results: Multiple perspectives reflected improvement over time. In the analysis of 118 hospitals (2006-2007), 66% of hospitals improved risk-adjusted mortality (mean O/E improvement: 0.174; P < 0.05) and 82% improved risk adjusted complication rates (mean improvement: 0.114; P < 0.05). Correlations between starting O/E and improvement (0.834 for mortality, 0.652 for morbidity), as well as relative risk, revealed that initially worse-performing hospitals had more likelihood of improvement. Nonetheless, well-performing hospitals also improved. Modeling morbidity counts, 183 hospitals (2007), avoided ~9598 potential complications: ~52/hospital. Due to sampling this may represent only 1 of 5 to 1of 10 of the true total. Improvement reflected aggregate performance across all types of hospitals (academic/community, urban/rural). Changes in patient risk over time had important contributions to the effect.

Conclusions: ACS-NSQIP indicates that surgical outcomes improve across all participating hospitals in the private sector. Improvement is reflected for both poor- and well-performing facilities. NSQIP hospitals appear to be avoiding substantial numbers of complications- improving care, and reducing costs. Changes in risk over time merit further study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Hospitals, Veterans / standards
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • Risk Adjustment
  • Societies, Medical
  • Surgery Department, Hospital / standards*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs