Advancing the Science

Mayo Clinic Medical Science Blog – an eclectic collection of research- and research education-related stories: feature stories, mini news bites, learning opportunities, profiles and more from Mayo Clinic.

June 9, 2015

Surgical Outcomes – A Focus Area for Continuous Improvement

By Elizabeth Zimmermann

“A surgical procedure should be planned so that the patient, with the least possible risk and loss of time, will receive the greatest possible benefit.” -Dr. Charlie Mayo, 1930.

The field of Surgical Outcomes Research is often traced back to Dr. Ernest Codman, who self-published A Study of Hospital Efficiency: As Demonstrated by the Case Report of the First Five Years of a Private Hospital (read abridged report)  in 1918, the era of the Mayo Brothers.Charles Mayo and colleagues in surgery suite

Over the past nearly 100 years, interest and productivity in Surgical Outcomes Research has grown. Our national organization, the Surgical Outcomes Club, was founded in 2005 and grows stronger each year, with members from hospitals and universities across the country and world, all interested in improving the care and outcomes of surgical patients.

The Surgical Outcomes Program within the Mayo Clinic Robert. D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery engages surgeons, anesthesiologists, health services researchers, data analysts, and others to identify areas in need of research. Our goal is to improve the quality of surgical patient care at Mayo Clinic and in the United States as a whole.  Examples of our work include:

  • Access to high-quality surgical care is a goal shared by all, but can we better define the characteristics of high-quality surgical care? A 2014 study demonstrated that patients with rectal cancer who see board-certified colorectal surgeons in high-volume or National Cancer Institute-designated hospitals experience better survival rates.
  • Mayo Clinic has a long history of intraoperative frozen section margin analysis for its breast cancer patients. How does this relatively unique practice impact its patients? According to data published in Surgery in 2014, this practice results in lower re-operation rates for women with breast cancer, roughly one-fourth of what was observed in a national database.
  • Quality metrics for surgery are increasingly considered as part of reimbursement policy. However, certain metrics may be more appropriate than others. A recent analysis investigated whether the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services decision to not reimburse for post-surgical urinary tract infections is justified.

Here at Mayo Clinic, our primary value is “the needs of the patient come first.” We have been seeking best outcomes since our founders first practiced medicine. Eighty-five years after Dr. Charlie Mayo spoke about planning the surgical procedure with the patients’ interests in mind; we continue to strive to provide evidence to improve surgical care for all.


Elizabeth Habermann, Ph.D., is the scientific director of the Surgical Outcomes Program in the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.




If you are interested in learning more about what Mayo Clinic and others are doing in surgical outcomes research or across the rest of the continuum of health care delivery, consider attending Delivery Science Summit in September 16-18, 2015, Rochester, Minnesota.

Tags: About, Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, Elizabeth Habermann, Findings, Innovations, surgical outcomes

That’s a really interesting article and would be a great addition to the writing service and it’s crew.

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