Mayo Clinic chest surgeons have proposed a system of quality indicators of lung surgery as a method to establish best practices for obtaining positive patient outcomes.  Currently, no standard criteria exist to measure the quality of care received by lung surgery patients.

“There are certain processes that we can measure and report that clearly indicate whether patients have received high quality care around the time of their lung operation,” says Stephen Cassivi, MD, lead study author and Mayo Clinic thoracic surgeon.

Presently, death rates following lung surgery are often reported, but are not adjusted for factors such as patient age and disease severity. A list of processes that should occur prior to, during, and after lung surgery was proposed by the Mayo Clinic surgeons to increase the likelihood of best surgical outcomes.

Processes that should occur prior to surgery include:
•    Pulmonary function testing
•    Electrocardiogram
•    Smoking history documentation
•    Smoking cessation therapy offered to those patients still smoking
•    Appropriate preoperative staging of cancer

Processes suggested to occur after surgery include:
•    Use of incentive spirometry
•    Timely response to heart rhythm disturbances
•    Defined measures to prevent venous clots
•    Documented timely attention to pain control
•    Follow-up care planning prior to discharge from hospital

“If all practices used these indicators, the huge variability in care of lung surgery patients could be reduced and overall quality increase,” says Cassivi.