Do Report Cards on Surgical Care Quality Benefit Patients?

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Report Cards on Surgical Care Quality
Report Cards on Surgical Care Quality

(HealthDay News) — Report cards on the quality of surgical care provided by hospitals don't appear to benefit Medicare patients, according to a new study. The findings were published in the February 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The report cards have been issued under the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS-NSQIP) since the early 2000s. Trained nurses at participating hospitals record and submit data about every operation. The goal is to prompt hospitals to make improvements in areas where they perform poorly. But this study found that this approach is doing little to help older patients.

Researchers analyzed data from 1.2 million Medicare patients who had one of 11 major types of surgery over a decade. The operations were performed at 263 hospitals receiving report cards and 526 hospitals not involved in the program. The researchers observed no differences in surgical safety or cost savings between the two groups of hospitals. The findings don't mean that such programs aren't worthwhile. But, the study does point to the need for hospitals to put the report card information they receive to better use, according to the researchers.

"Although ACS-NSQIP hospitals are improving over time, so are other non-participating hospitals," study lead author Nicholas Osborne, MD, a vascular surgeon at the University of Michigan Health System's Cardiovascular Center in Ann Arbor, said in a university news release. "Knowing where you perform poorly is the important first step. But the next leap from measuring outcomes to improving outcomes is much more difficult."

One author disclosed financial ties to ArborMetrix Inc., which provides software and analytics for measuring hospital quality and efficiency.

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