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Four military treatment facilities earn prestigious surgical quality awards

Navy Cmdr. Cary Schultz, a certified registered nurse anesthetist at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, monitors anesthesia levels during surgery in the operating room. “Our entire surgical team ensures that our fighting team is able to receive the treatment needed to keep them at top physical performance and ensure mission readiness,” said Schultz. The hospital was one of four MHS facilities recognized for exemplary surgical patient care in calendar year 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel) Navy Cmdr. Cary Schultz, a certified registered nurse anesthetist at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, monitors anesthesia levels during surgery in the operating room. “Our entire surgical team ensures that our fighting team is able to receive the treatment needed to keep them at top physical performance and ensure mission readiness,” said Schultz. The hospital was one of four MHS facilities recognized for exemplary surgical patient care in calendar year 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel)

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Four military treatment facilities have been honored by the American College of Surgeons for exemplary surgical patient care in calendar year 2017. The Meritorious Awards are bestowed annually upon the top 10 percent of American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program participant facilities worldwide.

“These awardees went above and beyond to meet the gold standard for quality—identifying areas for improvement to achieve benchmarked surgical outcomes,” said Vice Admiral Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency.

Winners were selected based on commendable outcomes in eight clinical areas in two separate categories, one for all cases and another for high risk cases.

The military treatment facilities recognized for all cases were David Grant Medical Center, Fairfield, California; Darnall Army Medical Center, Fort Hood, Texas; Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida; and Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia. Both David Grant Medical Center and Naval Medical Center Portsmouth also received Meritorious Distinction recognition for outcomes in high-risk cases.

The four facilities’ surgical outcomes were in the top 10 percent of all participants, sharing this distinction with 83 hospitals worldwide. David Grant Medical Center, honored in both categories, was recognized for the third year in a row.

Participation in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program or NSQIP is voluntary and open to any hospital wanting to improve surgical outcomes. The Military Health System has enrolled 46 hospitals, which is all of its eligible military treatment facilities, in the program.

"We are proud of the four facilities recognized for their excellence in surgical quality," said Dr. Paul R. Cordts, Deputy Assistant Director of Medical Affairs, Defense Health Agency. All of our hospitals are strengthened by this partnership with the American College of Surgeons and the value of comparing our performance to civilian healthcare leaders."

The program, developed by surgeons for surgeons, requires each hospital to submit data into a centralized database for rigorous statistical analysis, thus enabling benchmarking against similar hospitals with similar patients. Surgeon-nurse co-led teams at each facility collect the data from patients’ medical charts on their perioperative experience, capturing surgical complication rates based on 30-day patient outcomes. Teams use their data to evaluate outcomes and determine actionable improvements, creating a culture of continuous quality improvement.

The Department of Defense supports a NSQIP collaborative among the military treatment facility teams, providing an opportunity to share successes and challenges across facilities, and facilitating mentoring, education, and networking opportunities for the staff. A Steering Panel provides leadership and oversight of the collaborative with representatives from the Defense Health Agency and each service medical branch.

“The teams are dedicated to improvement,” said Ret. Navy Capt. Mollie Mullen, Advisor for Clinical Quality, Directorate for Surgical Services at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego; Mullen also co-chairs the NSQIP Steering Panel. “They are committed to very rigorous data collection, review, and process improvement that has led to a culture of high quality patient care.”

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