The 30-Year Influence of a Regional Consortium on Quality Improvement in Cardiac Surgery.

Document Type


Publication Date



Cardiology, Surgery

Journal Title

The Annals of thoracic surgery

MeSH Headings

Quality Improvement, Thoracic Surgery, Cardiac Surgical Procedures


BACKGROUND: The Northern New England Cardiovascular Disease Study Group (NNECDSG) was founded in 1987 as a regional consortium to improve cardiovascular quality in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. We sought to assess the longitudinal impact of the NNECDSG on quality and cost of coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) during the past 30 years.

METHODS: Patients undergoing isolated CABG at 5 medical centers from 1987-2017 were retrospectively reviewed (n = 67,942). They were divided into 4 time periods: 1987-1999 (n = 36,885), 2000-2005 (n = 14,606), 2006-2011(n = 8470), and 2012-2017 (n = 7981). The first period was the time the NNECDSG initiated a series of quality improvement initiatives including data feedback, quality improvement training, process mapping, and site visits.

RESULTS: Throughout the 4 time intervals, there was a consistent decline in in-hospital mortality, from 3.4% to 1.8% despite an increase in predicted risk of mortality (P < .001), and a significant decline in in-hospital morbidity, including return to the operating room for bleeding, acute kidney injury, mediastinitis, and low output failure (P < .001). Median length of stay decreased from 7 to 5 days (P < .001), which translated into potential savings of $82,722,023. There was a decrease in use of red blood cells from 3.1 units to 2.6 units per patient in the most current time, which translated into potential savings of $1,985,456.

CONCLUSIONS: By using collaborative quality improvement initiatives, the NNECDSG has succeeded in significant, sustained improvements in quality and cost for CABG during the past 30 years. These data support the utility of a regional consortium in improving quality.