BOSTON -- The Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has again received the Commission on Cancer's Outstanding Achievement Award - a three-year approval with commendation - certifying that the Center meets or exceeds Commission standards.
"This is JCAHO for cancer and it translates into a level of excellence above and beyond even the standards listed in the report," said breast surgeon Mary Jane Houlihan, MD, noting that the number of cancer cases diagnosed and/or treated at BIDMC has risen from 1,400 in 1991, to 3,600 in 2007. "None of the other Harvard teaching hospitals have this approval."
The American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving survival rates and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting, prevention, education, research and monitoring of comprehensive quality care.
Preparing for and meeting the standards of the voluntary inspection program is a lot of work, said Houlihan. "The decision to become an accredited program enabled us to establish a GYN Oncology fellowship and also made it easier for our faculty to obtain NIH grants as well as other types of study grants," she said. "For patients to see that we are an accredited program suggests that all of our staging, testing and technical equipment has to be at a very high level."
The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 1.4 million cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2008. "There are currently 1,400 COC-approved cancer programs in the United States and Puerto Rico, representing close to 25 percent of all hospitals. However, this 25 percent of hospitals will diagnose and/or treat 80 percent of the newly diagnosed cancer patients each year," according to a COC press release.
To be approved requires a high level of technical support staff, as well as a good educational program for faculty, students, residents and support staff. Facilities must have an active clinical research program and be enrolling at least two percent of patients in clinical studies.
"That doesn't happen at a lot of places and in fact in our institution right now about 18 percent of patients are in clinical trials," said Houlihan. "That suggests a very progressive, forward-moving look for cancer care."
To receive an approval with commendation a facility must also have strong community outreach and screening programs in the community.
"Many of the other institutions have one or two of those components, but they haven't done all of it," said Houlihan. "So it speaks volumes to the commitment of this hospital and its administration to cancer that we have the resources."
In its Performance Report, BIDMC received top ratings in many key areas from the COC inspector, including: outcomes analysis; abstracting timeframe ("100% of cases reviewed were abstracted within 6 months. Excellent job!"); staging; clinical trial accrual; prevention and early detection; cancer registry staff education and cancer-related improvements.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and consistently ranks among the top four in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit www.bidmc.harvard.edu.