National Quality Forum endorses surgery standards

The National Quality Forum (NQF) has endorsed 13 clinician-level consensus standards related to perioperative care and four facility-level measures in surgery and anesthesia. (See box.)

The new NQF-endorsed voluntary consensus standards include clinician-level and facility-level performance measures for critical care and anesthesiology; perioperative management; and general thoracic surgery. Additionally, prophylactic antibiotic measures previously endorsed by NQF were updated to include foot and ankle procedures.

Darrell Campbell, MD, professor of surgery and chief of staff at University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, Ann Arbor, and Rome Walker, MD, medical director at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Virginia, in Richmond, co-chaired NQF's perioperative care steering committee. Walker said, "All stakeholders, including employers, physicians and the government, are looking for endorsed standards like these perioperative performance measures that are feasible, reliable, and valid. The newly endorsed perioperative performance measures on a clinical level will be the driving force for improvement in both processes and health outcomes for patients."

The standards measure the quality, efficiency, and care coordination of surgical care, including preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative care within the surgical facility, as well as coordination with appropriate external providers. This includes perioperative temperature management for surgery patients and postoperative urinary catheter removal. There was a significant effort to ensure the facility-level standards were harmonized with the clinician-level perioperative standards.

Measures were developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the American Medical Association's Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, LifeScan, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the Society for Vascular Surgery, and the Vascular Study Group of Northern New England.

Helen Burstin, MD, MPH, senior vice president for performance measures at the NQF, said the standards "offer additional quality measures — particularly for those who practice in outpatient and related clinics." [Editor's note: For more information, go to the National Quality Forum web site at Contact Burstin at the National Quality Forum, 601 13th St. N.W., Suite 500 N., Washington, DC 20005. Phone: (202) 783-1300.]