Joint Base San Antonio, Texas (Dec. 15, 2017) -- Most people don't know that Army Medicine maintains patient safety by using an outside, independent agency to directly measure surgical safety and rate Army medical facilities against civilian hospitals.

Army facilities also frequently rank in the top ten percent of the best in the nation for surgical patient safety alongside institutions like Johns Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic.

Army Medicine uses the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) which is a nationally validated quality improvement program that measures the care of surgical patients through the application of scientific data and comparisons of the care among participating hospitals.

Lt. Col. Cleve Sylvester, U.S. Army Medical Command Surgical Service Line, explained that the program benefits Army patients by allowing Army Medicine to see complications and adverse events that patients experience.

"When analyzed through the robust process provided by the American College of Surgeons, we are able to better see our weaknesses and areas in which we need to improve, in a way we could never see in the past - that takes into account a patient's underlying disease processes that might affect the outcome of the surgery they are undergoing," said Sylvester.

Beginning in 2014, the Army NSQIP program is part of a military, tri-service surgical quality collaboration with the Defense Health Agency (DHA) called the Military Healthcare System's Strategic Partnership with the American College of Surgeons (MHSSPACS). The partnership is intended to improve educational opportunities, systems-based practices, and research capabilities in surgery.

Sylvester stated that MHSSPACS is important because the combined ACS and MHS resources for mentorship and training focus on the unique aspects of military medicine along with similar civilian healthcare elements.

Since last year, all remaining Army facilities were enrolled into NSQIP and Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) received the ACS distinction of meritorious hospitals, placing in the top 10% of hospitals with NSQIP.

In the future, Army Medicine is now looking at ways to improve by creating a community of surgical quality leaders to guide and unify efforts to improve surgical quality as well as implementing a tri-service approach that openly shares areas for improvement, lessons learned, and best practices in patient safety.