UC San Diego Health awarded advanced certification in spine surgery

Credit: UC San Diego Health

UC San Diego Health (San Diego USA) has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Advanced Certification in Spine Surgery (ACSS) by meeting or exceeding the highest level of national performance standards.

The Gold Seal represents a symbol of quality that reflects a health care organisation’s demonstrated ability to implement result-driven processes and advance patient outcomes.

Patty Maysent, CEO of UC San Diego Health, said: “As the region’s only academic medical centre, we proactively seek advanced certifications in specialty care that confirm our commitment to providing extraordinary care for all of our patients. This designation celebrates and recognises UC San Diego Health as a premiere destination for routine or complex spine surgery cases.”

To be eligible for ACSS, organisations must implement evidence-based care, clinical practice guidelines and participate in the American Spine Registry, a national quality improvement registry for spine care. Additionally, organisations need to collect performance measurement data on surgical site infection rates, new neurological deficits, unplanned return visits to the operating room, and preoperative and postoperative patient reported outcomes.

Alexander Khalessi, a neurosurgeon and chair of the department of neurological surgery at UC San Diego Health, added: “This certification affirms the presence of highly reliable processes successfully implemented by a multidisciplinary team of expert specialists, whose organised focus provides the best level of care for each patient.”

The certification was achieved through an interdisciplinary collaboration between the department of neurological surgery and the department of orthopaedic surgery at UC San Diego Health.

Susan Bukata, orthopaedic surgeon and chair of the department of orthopaedic surgery at UC San Diego Health, commented: “More than 100 people came together as part of our spine care teams to prepare for this certification process. The team-centred approach ensured coordination of best practices and brought diverse perspectives and expertise together to provide the highest quality of care to patients with spine disorders.”

UC San Diego Health underwent a rigorous, unannounced onsite review in September 2022. During the visit, a Joint Commission reviewer evaluated compliance with related certification standards, including anonymised patient cases, surgical outcomes, quality data collection methods and a review of care pathway processes.

Joint Commission standards are developed in consultation with health care experts and providers, measurement experts and patients. The reviewer also conducted onsite observations and interviews with team members.

“As a private accreditor, The Joint Commission surveys health care organisations to protect the public by identifying deficiencies in care and working with those organisations to correct them as quickly and sustainably as possible,” said Mark Pelletier, chief operating officer, accreditation and certification operations, and chief nursing executive, at The Joint Commission. “We commend UC San Diego Health for its continuous quality improvement efforts in patient safety and quality of care.”


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