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AHRQ Safety Program for Surgery

surgeons in operating room

Of the nearly 50 million people in the United States who have surgery each year, approximately one million develop serious complications and more than 150,000 die within 30 days. Through its ACTION II program, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in fall 2011 funded AHRQ Safety Program for Surgery, a four-year national project to reduce surgical-site infections (SSIs) and other complications in hospitals across the United States.

The project team included experts from the Armstrong Institute, the American College of Surgeons, the University of Pennsylvania and the World Health Organization Patient Safety Programme. 

About 250 participating hospitals worked with a team of national experts, in such areas as surgical evidence and quality improvement tools, while devising solutions that work best within their local context. Teams adopt the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP), an approach created at Johns Hopkins for improving safety culture and engaging frontline clinicians to identify and mitigate defects in care delivery. Using The Toolkit To Promote Safe Surgery, a Johns Hopkins Hospital team reduced SSIs in colorectal procedures by 33 percent.


CUSP Toolkit

The Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP) toolkit includes training tools to make care safer by improving the foundation of how your physicians, nurses, and other clinical team members work together. It builds the capacity to address safety issues by combining clinical best practices and the science of safety.

AHRQ Safety Program for Surgery Final Report

This final report summarizes the progress that was made during the AHRQ Safety Program for Surgery project.

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