The December issue of the Bulletin will feature an in-depth exploration of past, present, and future American College of Surgeons (ACS) efforts to improve the quality of surgical care for older adults. The following is a brief summary of these initiatives.
Decades of progress
Over the years, the College has been a leader in responding to the growing need for the aging American population to have access to high-quality surgical care. People older than 65 years of age represent a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population and a disproportionate share of individuals who undergo surgical procedures. Older adults have unique physiology, which often puts them at risk for complications after surgery. At a time when the quality and value of health care are under increasing scrutiny, the need for high-quality standards to improve surgical care delivery for this vulnerable population is on the rise.
The ACS has invested in improving surgical care for older adults over several decades. The ACS has partnered with the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) and The John A. Hartford Foundation since 1995 and has had a standing Geriatric Surgery Task Force since 2004. In an interdisciplinary effort, the ACS, the AGS, and The John A. Hartford Foundation issued a set of guidelines for preoperative care of geriatric patients in 2012, with a follow-up set of guidelines for perioperative and postoperative care in 2016. Through the College’s National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®), members of the Geriatric Surgery Task Force began collecting 14 patient-centered, geriatric-specific variables to better appreciate the unique risk factors and outcomes of older adults.
Coalition for Quality in Geriatric Surgery
Most recently, the ACS, with support from The John A. Hartford Foundation, convened a group of more than 50 stakeholders as the Coalition for Quality in Geriatric Surgery. This interdisciplinary, patient- and family-centered coalition aims to systematically improve surgical care for older adults. These improvements are intended for all geriatric surgical care programs, regardless of hospital size, location, or academic status. After an extensive standards evaluation process, the interdisciplinary panel is preparing to release the first iteration of high-quality geriatric surgery standards.
The project has garnered 74 mentions in the media as of press time, in addition to interviews on SiriusXM Doctor Radio, featuring Julia Berian, MD, ACS Clinical Scholar in Residence; Clifford Y. Ko, MD, MS, MSHS, FACS, FASCRS, Principal Investigator, and Director, ACS Division of Research and Optimal Patient Care; and Ronnie Rosenthal, MD, MS, FACS, Chair, ACS Geriatric Surgery Task Force and Co-Principal Investigator, Standards Subcommittee Co-Chair. Media outlets that have reported on the project include FOX News, Reuters, Medscape, and Surgical Products.