Background Survival of surgical inpatients is a key quality metric. Patient, surgeon, and system factors all contribute to inpatient mortality, and sophisticated risk adjustment is required to assess outcomes. When the mortality of general surgery patients was determined to be high at a safety-net hospital, a comprehensive approach was undertaken to improve patient survival. Methods General surgical service line mortality was measured in the database of the University HealthSystem Consortium from January 2013 through June 2015. Ten best practices were implemented sequentially to decrease observed and/or increase expected mortality. University HealthSystem Consortium mortality rank, observed, expected, and observed/expected index as well as early deaths were compared with control charts for 30 months. Results University HealthSystem Consortium general surgery mortality improved from the bottom decile to the top quartile, while Case Mix Index increased from 2.48 to 2.82 (P < .05). Observed mortality decreased from 3.39 to 2.35%. Expected mortality increased from 1.40 to 2.73% (P < .05). The observed/expected mortality index decreased from 2.43 to 0.86 (P < .05). Early deaths decreased from 0.52 to 0% (P < .05). Conclusion Risk-adjusted mortality and early deaths decreased significantly over 30 months in general surgery patients. Systematic implementation of quality best practices was associated with improved survival of general surgery patients at a safety-net medical center.
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