Making quality stick: Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety: Collaboration and guidelines can lead to better outcomes

Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and SafetyEditor’s note: In July 2017, 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 highlights some of the salient points made throughout the “red book.”


The road to quality improvement (QI) can be difficult to traverse alone. Partnering with other health care institutions and professionals through participation in QI collaboratives can provide a protected environment in which to analyze patient selection, processes of care, and outcomes. Indeed, substantive change is more likely to occur when organizations and individuals work together to solve a problem than when they work in isolation. Most importantly, participants can learn what works and what doesn’t much more effectively in the aggregate than when they work independently. Surgical QI collaboratives are an exciting development in the landscape of interventions to improve patient care.

From data analysis performed collaboratively, a number of coalitions and organizations have produced reliable clinical practice guidelines (CPGs). CPGs are sets of evidence-based recommendations that help health care professionals make decisions regarding the care they provide to individual patients and groups of patients with similar diseases. Increasingly, these guidelines will define how surgeons deliver care, and although implementation of CPGs will not defeat all of the problems associated with the delivery of quality health care, they can be an important part of ensuring high reliability and consistent outcomes.

Be sure to read next month’s overview of the red book for insights into educating and training surgeons and residents and a discussion of the individual surgeon’s responsibility to improve quality. 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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