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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Houston VA Boasts Award-Winning Surgical Program

July 16, 2002

Houston VA Boasts Award-Winning Surgical Program
Released: 2002/07/16

HVAMC Operative Care Line wins award for having the second lowest, risk-adjusted mortality rate among 123 VA Medical Centers nationwide . . .

the staff of the Operative Care Line quickly improvised and delivered a healthy baby girl
Photo by Victor Durant, HVAMC Education Service Line While not the average patient for the HVAMC, the staff of the Operative Care Line quickly improvised and delivered a healthy baby girl during last year's flood. Beverly Rashad, RN, Nurse Executive of the Operative Care Line (far left) and David H. Berger, MD, Operative Care Line Executive (far right) celebrate Baby Asia VA's first birthday in June with the little girl's grandmother and grandfather.

HOUSTON, TX - The Houston VA Medical Center (HVAMC) recently accepted an award from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) for having the second lowest risk adjusted mortality rate among 123 VA Medical Centers nationwide.

The HVAMC boasts a surgical staff that performs over 5,000 surgical procedures each year and represents nine surgical subspecialties. These include general surgery, cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, urology surgery, vascular surgery, otolaryngology, and gynecology.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Department of Veterans Affairs received a great deal of negative press regarding surgical outcomes. Surgical outcomes are the factors that contribute to a patient's life after surgery. This includes longevity and mortality, complications of care, patient's functional status after care, patient's quality of life after care, patient satisfaction, and the cost effectiveness of the surgery.

In December 1986, Congress enacted Public Law 99-166 stating that the VA should report its surgical outcomes in comparison to the national average with risk-adjustments accounting for the severity of patient illness.

The process has not been an easy one, or one without its problems. At first, surgeons were concerned about the accuracy of data collected and also concerned that the data was not adjusted appropriately for patient risk. Criteria were established to determine expected ratios for morbidity and mortality.

After many studies and much critiquing, the NSQIP has become the standard by which surgical quality is measured in the VA and is now being piloted in private hospitals. According to the Annals of Surgery in 1998, NSQIP is the first national, validated, outcome- based, risk-adjusted, and peer-controlled program for the measurement and enhancement of the quality of surgical care.

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Point of Contact: VHAHOU Public Affairs

04/21/04 08:25