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Seven MTFs recognized by ACS for surgical care

Military surgeons in an operating room In preparation for deployment, members of the 555th Forward Resuscitative Surgical Team help a team prepare for surgery in a real-time readiness training event this year at the ACS NSQIP-recognized Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center. (U.S. Army photo by Patricia Deal)

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The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program recently recognized seven military medical treatment facilities for outstanding surgical care in 2019. The Military Health System hospitals were among 89 recognized facilities and 607 total military and civilian hospitals participating in the program.

The program recognizes a select group of hospitals for achieving meritorious composite scores in either the “All Cases” category or a category that includes only “High Risk” cases. Risk-adjusted data from the July 2020 ACS NSQIP Semiannual Report, which presented data from the 2019 calendar year, was used to determine which hospitals demonstrated meritorious outcomes related to surgical patient care.

The military treatment facilities recognized were:

  • Brooke Army Medical Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Ft. Sam Houston, Texas
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Ft. Gordon, Georgia
  • Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Maryland
  • Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Ft. Hood, Texas
  • Naval Hospital Jacksonville at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida
  • David Grant USAF Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, California
  • Womack Army Medical Center at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina

Air Force Col. (Dr.) Peter Learn, deputy director of surgery for quality at WRNMMC, associate chair of surgery for quality and patient outcome and co-chair on the DOD NSQIP steering panel, explained that a certain level of transparency comes from these facilities comparing themselves to entities outside of the Department of Defense and MHS.

“NSQIP helps reassure our patient population that we take the quality of care that we’re delivering them very seriously, to the point that we are willing to benchmark ourselves against non-military institutions,” Learn said. “NSQIP is a voluntary program, so we’re already comparing ourselves against group of hospitals that are willing to subject themselves to that scrutiny”

Learn also state that, within the DOD’s unique operating environment, the care that MHS facilities and personnel provide stateside translates into the same standard of care when deployed.

“I think that if we can assure ourselves that we are delivering high-quality care stateside, then it better prepares us to deliver high-quality care in the deployed environment as well,” he said.

It’s less about winning awards and more about continuing to improve the quality of care throughout the MHS.

“That communicates a very strong message about the higher quality of care that’s available in our health system,” Learn said.

Mollie Mullen, advisor for clinical quality, Directorate for Surgical Services at Naval Medical Center San Diego and Learn’s co-chair on the NSQIP steering panel, echoed his thoughts.

“Participation in the NSQIP, and more importantly the DOD NSQIP Collaborative, provides reliable and actionable outcomes data, dedicated leadership, and a supportive framework which leads to collaboration, process improvement, and better outcomes,” she said. “The DOD NSQIP Collaborative is a critical piece towards successfully achieving the Defense Health Agency’s priorities of ‘Great Outcomes, Ready Medical Force, Satisfied Patients, and Fulfilled Staff.’”

Mullen also spoke of the importance of having a network that includes individuals and facilities from both within and outside of the MHS.

“Creating the DOD Collaborative of all eligible hospitals provides a unique MHS platform for benchmarking, both with civilian hospitals and DOD facilities. Working together as a unified military medicine team and learning from each other’s successes and challenges enhances best practices, ultimately improving patient care and outcomes.”

ACS NSQIP is the only nationally validated quality improvement program that measures and enhances the care of surgical patients. This program measures the actual surgical results 30 days postoperatively as well as risk adjusts patient characteristics to compensate for differences among patient populations and acuity levels. 

The goal of ACS NSQIP is to reduce surgical morbidity, which is infection or illness related to a surgical procedure, and surgical mortality, which is death related to a surgical procedure, and to provide a firm foundation for surgeons to apply what is known as the “best scientific evidence” to the practice of surgery.

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