Making quality stick: Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety: The SQO and review processes: Keys to staying on track

Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and SafetyEditor’s note: In July, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) released Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety—a new manual that is intended to serve as a trusted resource for surgical leaders seeking to improve patient care in their institutions and make quality stick. Each month, the Bulletin will highlight some of the salient points made throughout “the red book.”

Every hospital dedicated to quality improvement and patient safety should have a Surgical Quality Officer (SQO) on staff, as well as established processes for conducting case review and peer review.

The role of the SQO is a relatively new one at many institutions, but it is a position of increasing relevance. The SQO leads efforts to establish and maintain the infrastructure and standards necessary to ensure that the surgical care provided within an institution is optimal and that all team members have the resources, tools, training, and competencies needed to provide safe, high-quality, cost-effective, and reliable care.

Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety outlines the key responsibilities of the SQO; describes the skills, training, and personal attributes that will ensure the SQO’s success; identifies resources that the SQO can use; and describes the committees with which the SQO interacts.

Among those committees are the panels that are responsible for case review and peer review. At the most basic level, case review and peer review refer to the formal processes that health care professionals use to evaluate their clinical work and ensure that prevailing standards of care are being met. The manual describes five types of review—single-discipline case review, multidisciplinary case review, peer review of individual surgeons, data/registry review, and educational review conferences.

Surgeon leadership by the SQO or the chief of surgery is of the utmost importance in ensuring adherence to established protocols and the fair conduct of all reviews. Case review and peer review are defining characteristics of surgery as a profession that is committed to self-regulation, identification of outliers, and research and innovation aimed at improving quality and safety.

Be sure to read next month’s overview of Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety, which will focus on the role of the Surgical Quality and Safety Committee and credentialing and privileging.

Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety is available for $44.95 per copy for orders of nine copies or fewer and $39.95 for orders of 10 or more copies on the ACS website.

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