BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation’s Grant to Advance Surgical Safety

February 3, 2014

According to the World Health Organization, 25 percent of patients experience complications from inpatient surgery. In industrialized nations like the United States, nearly half of all adverse hospital events are related to surgical care. At least half of surgery-related adverse events are considered preventable.

For eight years, HSSC has partnered with the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) on initiatives to improve patient safety and healthcare quality. The collaboration received a major boost in December 2014 when the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation awarded HSSC a three-year, $3.8 million grant for the South Carolina Surgical Quality Collaborative to improve surgical safety in the state.

The goal is to improve the quality and safety of 15 common surgical procedures. HSSC and SCHA are establishing a measurement and reporting infrastructure utilizing HSSC’s Learning Healthcare System and Clinical Data Warehouse. This unique model draws upon near real-time data collected from some 3.8 million patient records across the state. The de-identified data - meaning there is no personal information associated with the data - will help researchers identify complications and outcomes as they relate to how surgeries are currently performed. Researchers and clinicians will determine best practices by surgery type, and SCHA will share the findings with South Carolina’s hospitals and encourage adoption of surgical approaches determined to be most effective. Additionally, surgical residents will learn these new, safer surgical protocols as part of their training.

The results of this study have the potential to positively impact surgical care in South Carolina on many levels. First and foremost, patients will benefit from evidence-based surgical approaches that yield the best outcomes. Second, a reduction in adverse events is good for healthcare providers and reduces the overall cost of care. Using HSSC’s Learning Health System model, improvements in surgical quality and safety will be ongoing.