The Veterans Affairs Continuous Improvement in Cardiac Surgery Study

Ann Thorac Surg. 1994 Dec;58(6):1845-51. doi: 10.1016/0003-4975(94)91725-6.


The Department of Veterans Affairs Cardiac Surgery Consultants Committee is responsible for reviewing the quality of cardiac surgical treatment at the 43 Veterans Affairs cardiac surgical centers where these procedures are performed. It does so by reviewing both the unadjusted and risk-adjusted operative mortality data and the incidence of perioperative complications. These data are reviewed by the committee semiannually, and the overall summary and hospital-specific data are shared with the individual cardiac surgical program directors. Paper audits and site visits are performed when indicated by increased unadjusted and risk-adjusted operative mortality. Constructive criticism is shared with the program director and medical center administration. The relative risk of death for numerous patient risk factors has been estimated, and is now used in prospective clinical decision making. During the 7-year period that risk-adjusted outcomes have been utilized, there has been an overall significant reduction in the observed-to-expected operative mortality ratio. Although many factors could have contributed to this, including continually improving surgical techniques, it is also likely that part of this improvement has occurred because of the continuous feedback of these quality improvement data to our cardiothoracic surgeons and cardiologists.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / mortality
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / standards*
  • Data Collection
  • Health Services Research
  • Hospitals, Veterans / standards*
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Total Quality Management*
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs