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Ann Surg. 2009 Apr;249(4):565-72. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e31819ec608.

Regional collaborations as a tool for quality improvements in surgery: a systematic review of the literature.

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The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.



A systematic review of the literature identifying regional collaborations in surgical practice examining practices related to quality improvement.


The MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library databases, were searched for published reports of regional collaborations in the surgical community relating to initiatives to enhance quality improvement, quality of care, patient safety, knowledge transfer, or communities of practice.


Seven collaborative initiatives met the inclusion criteria and were included in the systematic review of the evidence. Motivations for initiating collaborations were often in response to external demands for performance data. Changes in the processes of clinical care and improvements in clinical outcomes were reported on the basis of the collaborative efforts. Significant improvements in clinical outcomes such as decreases in mortality rates, lower duration of postoperative intubations, and fewer surgical-site infections were reported. Quality improvement process measures were also reported to be improved across all of the collaborative initiatives. Success factors included (a) the establishment of trust among health professionals and health institutions; (b) the availability of accurate, complete, relevant data; (c) clinical leadership; (d) institutional commitment; and (e) the infrastructure and methodological support for quality management.


A community of practice framework incorporating the success elements described in the systematic review of the literature can be used as a valuable model for collaboration amongst surgeons and healthcare organizations to improve quality of care and foster continuing professional development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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