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Methods to assess a surgeon's individual performance based on clinically meaningful outcomes have not been fully developed, due to small numbers of adverse outcomes and wide variation in case volumes. The Achievable Benchmark of Care (ABC) method addresses these issues by identifying benchmark-setting surgeons with high levels of performance and greater case volumes. This method was used to help surgeons compare their surgical practice to that of their peers by using merged National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) and Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) data to generate surgeon-specific reports.A retrospective cohort study at a single institution's department of surgery was conducted involving 107 surgeons (8,660 cases) over 5.5 years. Stratification of more than 32,000 CPT codes into 16 CPT clusters served as the risk adjustment. Thirty-day outcomes of interest included surgical site infection (SSI), acute kidney injury (AKI), and mortality. Performance characteristics of the ABC method were explored by examining how many surgeons were identified as benchmark-setters in view of volume and outcome rates within CPT clusters.For the data captured, most surgeons performed cases spanning a median of 5 CPT clusters (range 1 to 15 clusters), with a median of 26 cases (range 1 to 776 cases) and a median of 2.8 years (range 0 to 5.5 years). The highest volume surgeon for that CPT cluster set the benchmark for 6 of 16 CPT clusters for SSIs, 8 of 16 CPT clusters for AKIs, and 9 of 16 CPT clusters for mortality.The ABC method appears to be a sound and useful approach to identifying benchmark-setting surgeons within a single institution. Such surgeons may be able to help their peers improve their performance.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of the American College of Surgeons

Publication Date





113 - 121


Houston Methodist Research Institute, Houston, TX; University of Houston College of Pharmacy, Houston, TX. Electronic address:


Humans, Surgical Procedures, Operative, Cluster Analysis, Retrospective Studies, Benchmarking, Workload, Risk Adjustment, Outcome Assessment (Health Care), Quality Improvement