UF vascular surgeons hold first meeting of statewide study group

The Florida Vascular Study Group, FVSG, which fosters collaboration statewide among physicians and hospitals to collect and analyze clinical data from patients undergoing vascular procedures, held its first meeting on Oct. 27 at Shands at UF.

Led by Adam W. Beck, M.D., a UF assistant professor of surgery, the group’s focus is to improve the care of vascular patients throughout the region. The group, which formed this spring, is currently comprised of surgeons from five hospitals across Florida with more centers currently in the process of joining.

Visiting surgeons were present from throughout the states of Florida and Georgia, and much of the discussion surrounded the potential of expanding the group to include Georgia medical centers.

“Patients with vascular disease tend to have some of the most complicated and challenging medical problems that any physician must deal with,” said Beck. “The procedures performed and the conduct of the patients’ care can vary widely between surgeons, hospitals and regions, making identification of best practice difficult.”

There are a number of similar regional study groups, including the Vascular Study Group of New England. The New England group started in 2001, and ultimately led to an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-designated national patient safety organization, PSO.

“The idea of regionalized study groups is to identify variations in outcomes based on different demographics located in each region,” said Beck. “Combining Florida and Georgia into one region would rival the patient population present in New England, and would improve our ability to identify best practice for our unique patient population in the southern United States.”

With oversight by the PSO, regional groups collect procedural data, as well as information regarding pre- and post-operative care. This allows benchmarking of outcome variables so surgeons identify best practices and areas for quality improvement.

“Without measuring our outcomes, we cannot define quality,” said Beck. “The New England group has successfully demonstrated that quality improvement programs can change practice across a large region and improve the care of patients. My hope is that we will have similar successes in Florida and Georgia.”