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National Project Launched To Reduce Surgical Complications by 25 Percent

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Press Release Date: July 28, 2005

In an effort to improve surgical care in hospitals nationwide, a partnership of leading public and private health care organizations has launched a project to reduce surgical complications by 25 percent by the year 2010.

Surgical complications can take a measurable toll on a patient's health and safety, extending treatment and leading to longer hospital stays. The Surgical Care Improvement Project or SCIP (pronounced "skip") is designed to provide hospitals, physicians, nurses and other caregivers with effective strategies to reduce four common surgical complications—surgical wound infections, blood clots, perioperative heart attack and ventilator-associated pneumonia. The strategies are based on the best available science and will be refined and improved as new scientific information becomes available.

Hospitals will be asked to join SCIP today at the American Hospital Association's Health Forum meeting in San Diego.

SCIP is one of the first national quality improvement initiatives to unite national hospital, physician and nursing organizations; the federal government; the organization that accredits hospitals; and private sector experts in far-reaching quality improvement and patient safety efforts.

"One reason SCIP is so important is because of the partnership," said Dr. Mark McClellan, Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, one of 10 national organizations spearheading SCIP. "The only way to get to a better healthcare system is if we're all working together with efforts that are led by health professionals—the surgeons, the anesthesiologists, the registered nurses, the other health professionals and hospitals. They are absolutely critical elements to the success of quality improvement. The reason that CMS is such a strong supporter of SCIP is because it has such broad involvement and leadership from health professionals." (Editor's Note: Select for additional quotes.)

SCIP focuses on process measures, such as the appropriate use of antibiotics near the time of surgery and the use of beta blockers to prevent cardiovascular events.

The SCIP Partnership includes the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, American College of Surgeons, American Hospital Association, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and Veterans Health Administration.

For more information about SCIP, please visit, E-mail, or call (405) 840-2891.

For more information, please contact Tracy Senat, SCIP Communications Coordinator, (405) 840-2891, ext. 286, or

Additional SCIP Partner Quotes

Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: "AHRQ is very pleased to be part of this effort to prevent complications during and after surgery. The SCIP project brings together three components that we know are important: the evidence on how to prevent these complications, a collaborative team, and a concrete plan to make it happen."

Dr. Thomas Russell, Executive Director, American College of Surgeons: "SCIP is all about patients. This isn't about us, or the surgeons, or even all of the members of the team. This is about bringing the members of the team together to look at the issues we face, particularly complications, and see what we can do collaboratively to improve the care of the patients."

Dick Davidson, President, American Hospital Association: "Hospitals are continuously look for ways to improve the care they provide their patients and the communities they serve. Participating in SCIP is one more way hospitals are improving quality of care. SCIP provides a way for caregivers and health care experts to share information on evidence-based recommendations that are proven to be successful. I encourage all hospitals to join SCIP to make sure patients receive the safest surgical care possible."

Dr. Eugene Sinclair, President, American Society of Anesthesiologists: "The most important benefits of SCIP to patients will be a reduction in the incidence of surgical complications, a reduction in the number of hospital days, a reduction in the cost of healthcare, and improved quality."

Linda Groah, R.N., M.S.N., C.N.O.R, C.N.A.A., F.A.A.N., Association of periOperative Registered Nurses: "We were really excited to be invited to be part of the SCIP partnership.This was the first time that 10 organizations all agreed on a single focus, on care of the surgical patient and how we can improve that care."

Dr. Julie Gerberding, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "One of the most exciting things about this project is that we are bringing together the partnership of the government agencies that have a role, and also the healthcare organizations and experts across our country. By working in partnership with the people at the frontline of care, we can come up with better solutions and we can mobilize to make these solutions lead to better patient outcomes much more quickly."

Dr. Donald Berwick, President and CEO, Institute for Healthcare Improvement: "If we can find a way to take a hospital that can drive surgical site infection rates to one-tenth or one-one hundredth of a starting place and say that's where we all need to go, if we can take the successful pioneers and say that's our future, then I think we can get things done that we didn't even put on the screen five years ago."

Dr. Dennis O'Leary, President, Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations: "SCIP is really the last major frontier of performance measurement and reporting. Surgical care comprises a large segment of care we provide to patients, but it's an area in which we've really not had any meaningful performance measures to date. So this is a great opportunity. We have 30 million surgeries a year with an estimated post-operative complication rate of something over 5 percent. Hospitals will be able to measure complication rates, to intervene, and to improve patient care."

Dr. Jonathan B. Perlin, Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Administration: "VA is excited about the SCIP program. Ensuring exceptional health care is an ongoing process, and we must continue to improve. SCIP will help us to do so."


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