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California Society of Thoracic Surgeons (CASTS)

Southern California Regional Collaborative Project

April 25, 2012

To: Southern California Cardiac Surgery Teams

From: Joseph S. Carey M.D., Project Director

The CASTS is initiating a regional collaborative quality improvement project for Southern California cardiac surgery teams. The project has been designed with input and support from the leadership of the National STS, who have increasingly recognized the value of regional initiatives, though the effort will be driven locally. The project is supported by private foundation funding to provide for IT infrastructure, meetings and other developmental expenses.

While the primary goal is to improve the care of patients requiring cardiac surgery and interventions, regional collaboratives have also been shown to improve the practice environment of cardiovascular specialists. Sharing outcome data and care processes in pursuit of common goals has led to more consistent use of best practices. In particular, concordant decision making among surgeons and cardiologists will be stressed in this project.

The CASTS has updated its web sites to provide high quality reports on all cardiac surgery and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedures performed in California through 2010. We are in the process of validating procedure volumes and mortality rates using the state vital statistics and linked PDD-Death files. Directories of heart hospitals and heart surgeons have been created. It is important that we make these information sources as accurate as possible. Therefore we are asking you to review the links to your hospital and physician web sites that are provided on the CASTS home page and to review the data that is reported.

The CASTS reports compliment other sources of outcome information such as the CCORP and the STS National Database, which include data on the index hospitalization only, by including data on hospital readmission for additional procedures or complications . The Southern California Regional Collaborative Project will provide an additional set of robust reports from aggregated STS national database data.

The project will also be discussed at the May 16 CASTS data managers meeting at UCLA. Summaries of the project and its goals are posted in the resources section of the CASTS web site. 

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