American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

ACS in the News 2013

December 2013

Congress Poised To Permanently Fix Its Medicare Payment Glitch
NPR, December 19, 2013

“Still, it's not yet a done deal. For one thing, while physician groups are united in their opposition to the current payment system, they don't all agree on the details of the bills that are emerging. The bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee, for example, has drawn the opposition of the American College of Surgeons.

One big problem is that the bill would freeze physician pay at its current level for the next decade. ‘To really ... send the message to physicians that things are going to be frozen for 10 years doesn't seem like an appropriate policy issue,’ says David Hoyt, the group's executive director.” 

The Laboratory Of War: How Military Trauma Care Advances Are Benefiting Soldiers And Civilians
Health Affairs, December 18, 2013

“This morning, in Bethesda MD, the Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. David Hoyt, presented the leadership of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with a plaque recognizing its designation as an ACS-certified Level II Trauma Center. Walter Reed Bethesda is part of extraordinary chain of military health system facilities, providers, organizations, and techniques that have dramatically improved an injured service member’s odds of survival and recovery.”

Bariatric surgery isn’t ‘one size fits all’
CNN, December 10, 2013

“Wittgrove's ground-breaking operation changed all that. More than 90% of bariatric procedures are now minimally invasive, and in-hospital mortality rates have dropped to 0.10%, according to a 2011 study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. Ponce says laparoscopic bariatric surgery is now as safe as or safer than gallbladder removal, one of the most routine surgical procedures in America.”

Two Medicare Incentive Programs Get a Little Tougher
Medscape, December 4, 2013

“Organized medicine objected to this heavier reporting requirement after CMS proposed it in July. In a letter to the agency, James Madara, MD, the executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Medical Association (AMA), called the increase from 3 to 9 quality measures "an unreasonable leap" and suggested setting the new bar at 5 measures. The American College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) also questioned the new standard, with the AAFP arguing it would impose more of a burden on primary care physicians than specialists, many of whom will be allowed to report fewer than 9 quality measures because not as many of the measures apply to them.”

What you should ask before opting for elective surgery
The Washington Post, December 2, 2013

“A new surgical risk calculator developed by the American College of Surgeons can help, says Clifford Ko, director of the group’s division of research and optimal patient care. The calculator allows your doctor to enter information about you and the surgical procedure you’re considering to estimate your risk of complications using a database of records from patients at more than 500 hospitals.”

November 2013

BMI isn't the main factor in choosing the right weight loss operation
United Press International, November 22, 2013

“The study found that patients who exhibited higher levels of uncontrolled eating were more likely to have type 2 diabetes, poorer quality of life, a higher weight loss goal, and greater tolerance for assuming risk and chose to go in for a gastric bypass. While those who chose laparoscopic banding had lower body mass index, patients had similar risk preferences and eating behavior as those who had a gastric bypass. 

Dr. Wee said the study results suggest that behavioral characteristics and patient preferences may be as, or more, influential than BMI in the decision-making process. 

The study is published in the December issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons."

Just Say No: 10 Common Medical Tests That May Do More Harm Than Good
Forbes, November 14, 2013

"So far this fall, more than 15 medical academies, societies, and colleges, including the American College of Surgeons, the American Academy of Dermatology, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, have released new lists of procedures to be avoided. More than 35 medical groups have now made more than 250 recommendations as part of the campaign, which launched in April 2012.”

How Hospitals Can Make Quality Stick
U.S. News & World Report, November 6, 2013

“The best way to improve a hospital’s surgical quality—and sustain that improvement—is through access to timely clinical data, panelists said at a Tuesday afternoon session of the Hospital of Tomorrow, a U.S. News & World Report conference. 

The session, called “Making Quality Stick,” highlighted the value of data gathered by the American College of Surgeons, founder of the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP), a registry that collects clinical, risk-adjusted, 30-day outcomes data used by 500 hospitals throughout the United States.”

October 2013

Tourniquets Gain New Respect
Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2013

“After the Newtown shooting, Dr. Jacobs was among the medical experts asked by the American College of Surgeons and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to draft recommendations for the best way to respond to such events. Those recommendations, called the Hartford Consensus, included a call for wider use of tourniquets.”

Double Mastectomies May Not Increase Life Expectancy
Huffington Post, October 8, 2013

“One particular group of women who are opting to remove healthy breasts is those who have already been diagnosed with cancer in one breast. In just the last decade, the number of women who, once diagnosed with early stage cancer in one breast, have opted to not only remove the cancerous breast but also their healthy breast has more than doubled.

Unfortunately, new research presented at 2013 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons shows that opting to do so may only increase life expectancy by a maximum of six months, which is nearly inconsequential when noting that most women survive to live another 20 or 30 years, or more.”

Prophylactic Mastectomy Offers Minimal Gain in Breast Cancer
Medscape, October 8, 2013

“The survival benefit for contralateral prophylactic mastectomy among women who do not have a BRCA gene mutation is less than 1% at 20 years, a new computer model suggests…These findings, which come at a time of increasing demand for the procedure by women with cancer in one breast, were presented here at the American College of Surgeons 2013 Annual Clinical Congress.”

Appendix Removal Isn't Riskier on Weekend, Study Says
U.S. News and World Report, October 7, 2013

“Having your appendix removed on a weekend is as safe as having the surgery on a weekday, but you may end up paying more, a new study shows.

The findings were to be presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons in Washington, D.C.”

Study Examines Surgery Risks in Stented Patients
MedPage Today, October 7, 2013

“The timing of the operation relative to when the stent was implanted was a weaker predictor, and the stent type -- drug-eluting versus bare-metal -- was not significantly associated with adverse events at all. In addition, whether antiplatelet therapy was stopped or continued was not related to the likelihood of having a MACE after surgery, the researchers reported online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The results were presented simultaneously at the American College of Surgeons meeting in Washington.”

September 2013

5 questions to ask before surgery
CNN, September 25, 2013

“Dr. Karl Bilimoria, a surgeon at Northwestern University and the American College of Surgeons, advises that identifying and addressing these questions may help ensure a healthy recovery after an operation. In August, Bilimoria and researchers at the American College of Surgeons released an online tool that allows patients, in collaboration with their doctors, to estimate what their risks may be in undertaking an operation.” 

Skin-Cancer Groups Push for More Checkups
Wall Street Journal, September 2, 2013

“While skin cancers such as basal and squamous cell cancers can be disfiguring, they are highly curable. Melanoma is curable if caught early and surgically removed, but can quickly thicken, spread elsewhere in the body and turn lethal. Recurrence of melanoma 10 or more years after treatment is more common than previously thought, occurring in more than 1 in 20 patients, according to a study in July in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.”

August 2013

Online Calculator Predicts Risk of Surgical Complications
Yahoo! Health, August 20, 2013

“The American College of Surgeons (ACS) has unveiled a new surgical risk calculator. This online tool allows anyone with a computer and an Internet connection to punch specific information into a Web page to find out potential outcomes before ever going under the knife.”

Online calculator assesses individual patient surgical risks
FierceHealthIT, August 19, 2013

“A new tool developed by the American College of Surgeons enables physicians and the public to more accurately assess the risk involved with 1,500 surgical procedures…Detailed outcomes data from nearly 400 hospitals and 1.4 million patients was collected through the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. The creators rigorously tested the calculator and focused on using everyday language that would make it easy for the public to understand, according to an announcement."

Virtual training helps surgical residents with patient management
FierceHealthIT, August 5, 2013

“Three-dimensional simulation technology via Second Life could be the basis for a new tool to help surgical residents fine tune their patient management skills, according to research published in the August edition of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons."

July 2013

For surgery, big and famous hospitals aren't always the best
Reuters, July 31, 2013

“The American College of Surgeons collects data on surgical outcomes, such as the rate of infections at the surgical site and urinary tract infections, through its National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. The group will not release the data to the public because it promised confidentiality to hospitals providing the data, said Dr Clifford Ko, a cancer surgeon at UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center who is involved in the project. However, 102 of about 500 participating hospitals voluntarily report some of their data to the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services."

Fight back: When avalanche of anxiety and anger take over
Grand Rapids Press, July 21, 2013

“Identifying that level of distress and treating it has such a positive impact on our sticking with treatment, hastening recovery and even reducing healthcare costs, that ‘starting in 2015 more than 1,500 cancer centers will need to screen patients for distress to maintain their accreditation with the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.’”

With Split Grafts, A Donor's Liver Can Save Two Lives
Medical Daily, July 17, 2013

“Split liver transplantation carries no increased risk of failure in either recipient, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. The process, whereby two partial grafts can be obtained from a single donated organ, could virtually eliminate waitlist mortality among young children in need of a new liver.”

Doctors Tested in Boston Bombings
Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, July 2013

“Many surgeons credit the contributions of the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Trauma (COT) in the success of the surgical response following the bombings. The mission of the COT is to develop and implement meaningful programs for trauma care in local, national and international arenas, and to provide professional development and standards of care. ‘Without the COT,’ Dr. Vehamos said, ‘we wouldn’t have trauma systems; we wouldn’t have trauma teams, centers, standard of codes of managing trauma patients, no policies or protocols. It is this exact system put together that allows us to practice at the level that we do.’” 

Cancer Registrars' Role in the Era of Big Data
Advance, July 3, 2013

“In 2012, the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC) began pulling and pushing its accredited facilities into an era of big data by setting standards that encourage the use of facility-wide data. The 2012 CoC standards made it clear that the registry could no longer be an adjunct operation of a facility treating cancer patients. The standards required an integrated approach to reviewing the facility's operations and, in particular, its strengths and weaknesses.”

June 2013

Check Please: Choosing the Best Hospital for Your Cancer Surgery
Cure Magazine, June 17, 2013

“One good way to start is by searching for a hospital that's accredited by an external organization, such as the National Cancer Institute, says John Birkmeyer, who teaches surgery and directs the Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Commission on Cancer, created by the American College of Surgeons, also has an accreditation process. The more than 1,500 accredited cancer facilities make up 30 percent of all U.S. hospitals but care for about 70 percent of cancer patients, according to McKellar, who chairs the commission.”

Study: Quitting smoking helps surgical outcomes, June 21, 2013

“Smoking cessation at least one year before major surgery eliminates the increased risk of postoperative mortality and decreases the risk of arterial and respiratory events that are evident in current smokers, according to a study…A total of 125,192 current and 78,763 past smokers from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database who underwent a major surgery were included in the study, which was published June 19 on the website of JAMA Surgery.”

Obesity Not a Disease, AMA Council Says
MedPage Today, June 17, 2013

“Supporters of defining obesity as a disease disagreed with the report and said if the AMA were to agree with them, it would help highlight the epidemic in this country and spur health insurers to take greater responsibility for obesity… ‘A condition leads to one set of solutions. A disease might lead to another,’ said John Armstrong, MD, a delegate of the American College of Surgeons, which co-sponsored the resolution that would call obesity a disease.”

May 2013

The Gun Rampage Next Time
New York Times, May 31, 2013

“According to The Hartford Courant, doctors from the United States Navy and the F.B.I. and officers from several urban police forces convened in April to follow up on a recommendation from the American College of Surgeons that first responders be better prepared. The recommendation followed a mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded last July.” 

House hearing focuses on quality’s role in SGR reform
American Medical News, May 20, 2013

“‘The American College of Surgeons has advocated for a value-based overhaul of the payment system, said David Hoyt, MD, the college’s executive director. Payment updates would be based on improving quality and patient safety. ‘We have learned measuring quality improves patient care, increases the value of health care services and reduces cost,” Dr Hoyt said. “The savings gained are the direct result of improving quality outcomes.’ ”

Noise in Operating Rooms May Jeopardize Patient Safety
HealthDay / (Philadelphia Inquirer), May 15, 2013

“Background noise in the operating room -- such as the sounds of surgical equipment, chatter or music -- can affect surgeons' ability to understand what is being said to them and might result in a breakdown of communication among surgical team members, according to a new study... published in the May issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.”

Surgeon-Driven Quality Effort Slashes Complications, Costs
HealthLeaders Media, May 10, 2013

“The National Surgical Quality Improvement Project, a growing effort run by the American College of Surgeons since 2004, reports that 83% of program participants have been able to decrease their surgical complication rates by a statistically significant level.”

April 2013

New Partnership Aims to Improve Palliative Care for Cancer Patients
Oncology Times, April 25, 2013

“[Dr. Amy] Abernethy—a medical oncologist specializing in melanoma as well as health services research and delivery in patient-centered cancer care including pain, symptom management, and palliative care—is focused on oncology. Ultimately, though, she wants to use the ASCO-AAHPM project to create models for others specialties as well…She also explained that the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer's mandate that distress screening be part of cancer care for accreditation has opened the door for other psychosocial services.”

Tourniquets credited in Boston with saving lives
Omaha World-Herald, April 21, 2013

“...American College of Surgeons and the FBI met early this month with law enforcement and trauma care specialists to develop strategies to improve the survival of victims of mass shootings. One of the group's conclusions was that life-threatening bleeding from extremity wounds is best controlled initially through the use of tourniquets.”

CMS Mulls Use of Specialty Registries for Quality Data
HealthLeaders Media, April 16, 2013

“‘We think that if CMS allows registries to serve as physician quality reporting efforts, the agency should make sure the data is accurate and rigorously collected,’ " says Clifford Ko, MD, director of the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program or NSQIP, which now has 700 hospitals participating in a variety of outcomes registries for surgery.”

March 2013 

People with certain cancers enrolled in clinical trials survive longer
Reuters Health /Chicago Tribune, March 3, 2013

“Researchers found a 26 percent decrease in the risk of death for cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials, according to research published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. The study did not report how many people died.”

February 2013

Chicago gun violence drives push for more trauma care as hospitals cut back on facilities
Washington Post, February 28, 2013

“Experts [agree] that not every hospital should be a Level 1 trauma center. Trauma teams perform better if they handle more cases. The American College of Surgeons says at least 1,200 cases a year is standard for the best care.”

Is enrolling in a clinical trial tied to survival?
Reuters, February 28, 2013

“Researchers found a 26 percent decrease in the risk of death for cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials, according to research published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.”

Center for simulated medicine opens in Anne Arundel County
The Baltimore Sun, February 18, 2013

“The American College of Surgeons has granted professional accreditation to 83 simulation centers so far, most of them in the United States. Of those, all but a few are affiliated with major university hospitals.”

Patients Urged to Watch for Trouble After Colon Surgery
MedLine Plus, February 13, 2013

“The experts also said there were two other symptoms—chest pain and shortness of breath&madsh that require a trip to the nearest emergency department, according to the study  in the February issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. The study [on specific signs of complications in colorectal surgical patients] is the first step toward incorporating these warning signs into already established discharge instructions for bowel surgery patients, said study author Dr. Linda Li, of the Michael DeBakey Veterans Administration Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.”

Breast Reconstruction Using Women's Own Tissue Appears Safe: Study
Healthday | US News and World Report, February 22, 2013

“The risk varied by the type of flap procedure, however. The rates of complications were about 7 percent, 13 percent and 19 percent for the three types of flap procedures examined in the study, according to the findings, which were published in the February issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.” 

January 2013

Prescribing a new kind of rehab for cancer survivors
The Informed Patient | Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2013

“Rehabilitation services are ‘an absolutely essential part of cancer care,’ says Dan McKellar, chairman of the Commission on Cancer. Last year the nonprofit standards-setting group, overseen by the American College of Surgeons, began requiring cancer programs to offer rehabilitation services to be eligible for accreditation.” 

Surgical errors: In ORs, “never events” occur 80 times a week
American Medical News, January 28, 2013

“Given the common estimate that 50 million operations are done each year in the U.S., the calculation would translate to one surgical never event in every 12,248 procedures. Although surgical never events are extremely rare, that does not lessen the gravity of these mistakes, said T. Forcht Dagi, MD, MPH, chair of the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Perioperative Care. Checklists and protocols designed to prevent these errors must be followed”, he said.”

The type of hospital affects racial disparities in pediatric care 
United Press International (UPI), January 5, 2013

“The study, published in [the] Journal of American College of Surgeons, found Hispanic children were 23 percent more likely than white children to experience appendix perforation at community hospitals. Asian children were 34 percent more likely than white children to experience appendix perforation, and Hispanic patients treated at children's hospitals were 18 percent more likely than white patients to develop the complication.”