SUMMIT, NJ - The American College of Surgeons, an organization "dedicated to improving the care of the surgical patient and to safeguarding standards of care in an optimal and ethical practice environment," -- via its  National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) -- has recognized Atlantic Health System’s Overlook Medical Center as one of 66 ACS NSQIP participating hospitals that have achieved meritorious outcomes for surgical patient care.

The Meritorious designation is the NSQIP’s sole recognition and is awarded by NSQIP to the NSQIP-participating hospitals that performed best on an enhanced measure of surgical quality based on 2016 data. Of the 680 hospitals participating in NSQIP, less than 10 percent received this prestigious designation this year.

“As patients seek to make more informed decisions about their health care, the Meritorious designation provides a clear distinction for surgical quality,” said Paul Starker, MD FACS, chairman of the Department of Surgery at Overlook Medical Center and clinical professor of surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. “This recognition highlights the exceptional work being done and attention to patient safety and outcomes that Overlook’s surgeons and staff have adopted at every level.”

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The ACS NSQIP recognition program commends a select group of hospitals for achieving a composite meritorious outcome related to patient management in eight clinical areas: mortality, unplanned intubation, ventilator > 48 hours, renal failure, cardiac incidents (cardiac arrest and myocardial infarction); respiratory (pneumonia); SSI (surgical site infections-superficial and deep incisional and organ-space SSIs); or urinary tract infection.

Risk-adjusted data from the July 2017 ACS NSQIP Semiannual Report, which presents data from the 2016 calendar year, were used to determine which hospitals demonstrated meritorious outcomes. Under the program, hospitals are required to track the outcomes of inpatient and outpatient surgical procedures and collect data about patient safety and the quality of surgical care improvements for the performance period of January 1 - December 31, 2016.

Driving Overlook’s high scores were its general surgery, colorectal surgery and bariatric surgery programs. Overlook Medical Center was previously recognized by consumer healthcare ratings group Healthgrades as the only hospital in New Jersey to be named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for General Surgery in 2017. Overlook Medical Center was also recognized by Healthgrades for Superior Performance in Bariatric Surgery and achieved the Bariatric Surgery Excellence Award, identifying it among the top 5% in the nation for outstanding quality and outcomes for this complex procedure. Overlook was also ranked regionally by U.S. News & World Report as high-performing in Colon Cancer Surgery for the last two years.

As a top performer in quality measures for emergency general surgery, Overlook earlier this year developed an acute surgery initiative staffed by dedicated emergency surgeons. Similarly, Overlook also developed a hip fracture surgery program designed to get patients back on their feet and walking sooner, reduce readmissions and lower mortality rates.

Overlook’s sister hospital, Morristown Medical Center, also part of Atlantic Health System, also participates in NSQIP and received the Meritorious designation.

ACS NSQIP is the only nationally validated quality improvement program that measures and enhances the care of surgical patients. This program measures the actual surgical results 30 days after surgery, and risk-adjusts patient characteristics to compensate for differences among patient populations and acuity levels.

The goal of ACS NSQIP is to reduce surgical morbidity (infection or illness related to a surgical procedure) and surgical mortality (death related to a surgical procedure) and to provide a firm foundation for surgeons to apply what is known as the “best scientific evidence” to the practice of surgery. Furthermore, when adverse effects from surgical procedures are reduced and/or eliminated, a reduction in health care costs follows. ACS NSQIP is a major program of the American College of Surgeons and is currently used in nearly 800 adult and pediatric hospitals.

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and to improve the care of the surgical patient. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 80,000 members and it is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.