VHA Training Program Cuts Surgical Mortality

Program includes two month training program plus quarterly 'coaching' interviews
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- A nationwide Veterans Health Administration (VHA) team training program for operating room personnel cuts surgical mortality by 18 percent, according to research published in the Oct. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Julia Neily, R.N., of Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H., and colleagues conducted a retrospective health services study with a contemporaneous control group to assess whether there was an association between the nationwide VHA Medical Team Training program -- two-month training in use of a checklist-driven system of pre- and post-op briefings -- and surgical outcomes.

The researchers noted an 18 percent decrease in annual surgical mortality rates in the group of hospitals that used the training program compared to a 7 percent decrease in nonparticipating hospitals. The surgical mortality rate declined about 50 percent more in the training group than in the nontraining group, with a dose-response relationship for additional time in the training program.

"The VHA Medical Team Training program was associated with a statistically significant reduction in surgical mortality rate," the authors conclude.

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