Lurie Children’s Recognized as Level 1 Pediatric Surgery Center by American College of Surgeons for Second Time

​For the second year, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago has been named a Level I pediatric surgery center by the American College of Surgeons (ACS). In 2017 Lurie Children’s became the first children’s hospital in Illinois to earn this status and is currently one of only five in the country.

The Level I verification is awarded by a multi-organizational taskforce led by the ACS, the body responsible for setting the nation’s standards for quality of surgical care, practice and training. 

To be verified as a Level I surgery center, a children’s hospital must demonstrate it has the expertise, resources and capacity to deliver timely, safe, appropriate and multidisciplinary surgical care for even the most complex and rarest of cases and do so around the clock. In addition to children’s surgeons, Level I centers must have 24/7 availability of specialists in children’s anesthesiology, radiology, and emergency medicine, and must provide round-the-clock critical and intensive care for children and infants of all ages, including severely premature newborns. A Level I center must also provide education, training, leadership and research in the field of children’s surgery and may offer residency and fellowship training for the next generation of children’s surgeons and surgical subspecialists.

“We are very proud and honored to earn this recognition for the second year in a row,” said Marleta Reynolds, MD, surgeon-in-chief at Lurie Children’s, the Lydia J. Fredrickson Professor of Pediatric Surgery and professor of surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.  “Quality and safety remain at the core of everything we do, which ultimately benefits our patients.”

The verification is valid for one year, and Lurie Children’s can request reverification after a year by submitting data on surgical performance, patient outcomes, patient safety, and availability of surgical experts, subspecialists, and clinical resources.

This newly developed system by the ACS is intended to measure children’s hospitals’ surgical capacity and scope of services and ensure they match the medical and surgical needs of infants, children, and adolescents treated at its verified hospitals.

“Specialized training and resources are absolutely critical to meet the needs of the smallest infants who fit in the palm of our hands to teenagers who are almost adults but still have their special needs,” said Fizan Abdullah, MD, PhD, Vice Chair Dept. of Surgery at Lurie Children’s, Orvar Swenson Founders’ Board Chair in Pediatric Surgery, and Professor of Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This verification program from the American College of Surgeons affirms that the appropriate resources match the needs of each child.  As a hospital that treats cases from the most complex to the most common, we are humbled that Lurie Children’s is one of the few hospitals in the country to receive this Level 1 verification. Having this distinction affirms we are on the cutting edge surgically and a national leader in providing surgical treatment to children in the safest possible environment.”

The ACS emphasizes that the different levels of verification are meant to capture the resources needed to deliver a certain level of surgical care, rather than to evaluate individual hospital performance. The verification is intended to differentiate between hospitals specializing in the surgical care of complex, rare, and severe cases from those delivering high-quality but routine and less complex care.

Millions of infants and children undergo operations in the United States each year. Ensuring that children receive the right treatment at the right time at a hospital that matches the complexity of their condition is critical to improving patient safety and outcomes, reducing complications and optimizing the use of medical resources. The new classification system is designed to reduce the risk of under-triage — mistakenly sending a child with severe or complex surgical condition to a hospital that doesn’t have the capacity to treat that patient. It is also intended to minimize the chance for over-triage — unnecessarily sending more routine, simpler cases to higher-level surgical centers, a process that can strain and drain hospital resources, drive health-care cost and increase travel burden for families.

The Department of Surgery at Lurie Children’s hospital includes 10 pediatric surgical subspecialties, including neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, transplantation, plastic and reconstructive surgery, otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, general surgery, urology, orthopedic surgery, and dentistry. Lurie Children’s performs more pediatric operations than any other hospital in Chicago treating children across the age spectrum for conditions ranging from benign and common to complex, rare and life-threatening.

Founded in 1882, Lurie Children’s is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and one of only a handful of U.S. children’s hospitals with a dedicated pediatric research center, Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute.  Last year, the hospital treated more than 174,000 patients.


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