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

ACS NSQIP® named a 2014 Recipient of the John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award


CHICAGO (March 4, 2015): The Joint Commission (TJC) and the National Quality Forum (NQF) have announced the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®) as a recipient of the John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award in the category of Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality at the National Level.  

The award recipients’ achievements must be consistent with the aims of the National Quality Strategy, led by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with an emphasis on better care, healthy people and communities, and affordable care.

ACS NSQIP was recognized at the national level, along with the following award recipients: 

  • Individual Achievement – Mark L. Graber, MD, FACP, senior fellow, Health Care Quality and Outcomes Program, RTI International
  • Local Level – North Shore-LIJ Health System’s initiative to reduce sepsis mortality

The awards will be presented March 23, 2015 at the NQF Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

The patient safety awards program, launched in 2002 by NQF and TJC, honors the late John M. Eisenberg, MD, MBA, former administrator of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Dr. Eisenberg also was a member of the founding board of directors of NQF. In his roles both as AHRQ administrator and chair of the federal government’s Quality Interagency Coordination Task Force, he was a passionate advocate for patient safety and health care quality and personally led AHRQ’s grant program to support patient safety research.

John M. Eisenberg, MD, MBA“We extend our sincere thanks to The Joint Commission and National Quality Forum for this distinguished award.  The American College of Surgeons feels an indelible connection to Dr. Eisenberg and his passion for health care quality,” said ACS Executive Director David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS.  “Dr. Eisenberg was a visionary early leader of AHRQ and champion of patient safety.  It was grant support from AHRQ that made the introduction of NSQIP possible.  Based on a similar program in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), we started NSQIP in 2001 in 14 private sector and not-for-profit hospitals as part of an extended trial.  Following a three year study that showed NSQIP was effective in reducing morbidity and mortality rates in surgical patients, the program became available to all hospitals.  Today more than 600 hospitals participate in ACS NSQIP,” he said.  “We’re very grateful for the early support we received from AHRQ, and proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in improving surgical patient quality in the past decade.”

“For the past decade, NSQIP has proven to be an effective measurement system for hospitals and surgeons around the world. As health care continues to expand its quality improvement efforts, it is important to use reliable and valid measurement systems such as ACS NSQIP to drive toward the elimination of patient harm,” said Mark R. Chassin, MD, FACP, MPP, MPH, president and CEO, The Joint Commission.  “The Joint Commission extends our sincere congratulations to the recipients of the 2014 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award for their diligent efforts to improve patient safety and quality of care.”

Last week a study in the Annals of Surgery found that the majority of hospitals participating in ACS NSQIP improve surgical outcomes over time, and improvement continues with each year that hospitals participate in the program.  Among hospitals currently participating in the program for at least three years, 69 percent reduced the rate of death; 79 percent reduced the rate of complications; and 71 percent reduced the rate of surgical site infections.  It was estimated that, on average, these hospitals reduced their rate of death by 0.8 percent per year; reduced their rate of complications by 3.1 percent per year; and reduced their rate of surgical site infection by 2.6 percent per year (with respect to the prior year’s rates).  

Because these are annual reductions, hospitals committed to participation in the program can see significant improvement accumulate over time, according to study authors.  For example, by year five, an average size hospital is likely to be preventing at least 7 deaths, 150 complications and 66 surgical site infections per 10,000 surgical procedures.  A large hospital with 800 to 1,000 beds could prevent twice as many instances of patient harm, study authors noted.*

“The health care quality and patient safety principles that embody the Eisenberg Award are consistent with the work ACS NSQIP is accomplishing in the surgical community.  We’re proud to receive this national honor,” said Clifford Y. Ko, MD, FACS, Director of the ACS Division of Research and Optimal Patient Care.  “As ACS NSQIP enters its second decade, we’ll build upon the firm foundation we’ve laid, and continue to advance methods to accurately measure and report surgical care quality through the use of clinical registry data that hospitals must act upon to truly improve their outcomes.”

On the national level, ACS NSQIP has worked on developing several measures that have been endorsed by the National Quality Forum.  These include outcome based measures (e.g. surgical site infection), procedure specific measures (e.g. colectomy outcomes), and population specific measures (e.g. elderly surgery outcomes).  NQF’s endorsement of measures marks an important step on the path toward national implementation of surgical quality measures.  The College, in collaboration with CMS, has also publically reported several of the NQF endorsed ACS NSQIP measures on the CMS Hospital Compare website for over two years.

“ACS NSQIP improves clinical outcomes, decreases preventable harm, and provides for a more efficient use of health care resources,” said Christine K. Cassel, MD, NQF president and CEO.  “The National Quality Forum applauds the American College of Surgeons and the other Eisenberg Award winners—Dr. Graber and North Shore-LIJ Health System—for their exemplary efforts to improve the safety, quality, and value of the health care experience for patients across the country.  Their work is an inspiration to the quality field as we work together on our universal goal of ensuring that all patients receive the high quality, safe care they need and deserve.”

“The success of ACS NSQIP is due to a sensational team effort that’s put forth daily by dedicated surgical teams in hundreds of participating hospitals,” Dr. Hoyt said.  “But we’d be amiss if we didn’t acknowledge ACS leaders and staff who have worked tirelessly to make NSQIP so effective:  The program’s Director Dr. Clifford Ko and the ACS NSQIP team; the trio who started the program— Dr. R. Scott Jones, the inaugural director of the program, former ACS Executive Director Dr. Thomas Russell, and Ms. Karen Richards; ACS NSQIP Consulting Director  Dr. Bruce Hall for his statistical expertise and implementation efforts in forming the framework for the program; former ACS President Dr. Ted Copland for his oversight in meeting with a VA team to discuss NSQIP’s inception; and all of the College’s Regents and Officers who provided their input and approval for this significant surgical quality initiative.” 


*Cohen ME, Liu Y; Ko CY, Hall, BL. Improved Surgical Outcomes for ACS NSQIP Hospitals Over Time. Ann Surg.2015; DOI: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000001192.

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About the American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 80,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit


Dan Hamilton
Sally Garneski