The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program: achieving better and safer surgery

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2015 May;41(5):199-204. doi: 10.1016/s1553-7250(15)41026-8.


Background: The American College of Surgeons (ACS) National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP), in operation since late 2004, evaluates surgical quality and safety by feeding back valid, timely, risk-adjusted outcomes, which providers use to improve care.

Methods: A number of components have been developed and refined in the more than a decade since ACS NSQIP's initiation. These items can be grouped into areas of data collection, case sampling, risk adjustment, feedback reporting, the expansion into procedure-targeted sampling, development of improvement collaboratives, and the development of improvement tools. Although ACS NSQIP was originally designed as a hospital-based program, it now also allows for surgeon-specific reporting that can be used by individual surgeons as a feedback tool to improve their performance.

Results: There are more than 600 ACS NSQIP hospitals in 49 of the 50 states of the United States and in 13 other countries. Virtually all surgical (sub)specialties are touched by ACS NSQIP, which contains several million patient records and more than 100 statistically risk-adjusted models. In studies that have used ACS NSQIP clinical data, demonstrable improvement has been reported in local hospitals, in regional collaboratives, and across the program overall. Concomitantly, substantial cost savings for individual hospitals, as well as at regional and national levels, have been reported.

Conclusion: ACS NSQIP has not only demonstrated how and why the use of accurate clinical data is crucial, but also how the program, through its risk-adjusted feedback, improvement tools, and hospital collaboratives, helps hospitals and providers to achieve safer surgery and better patient care.

MeSH terms

  • Benchmarking
  • Communication
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Data Collection
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Safety*
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Societies, Medical*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / standards*
  • United States