Summit Receives Prestigious Spine Fusion Certification

Summit is the first surgery center in the nation to receive spine fusion certification.

spine fusion certification

Summit Orthopedics is proud to announce that our Eagan Surgery Center is the first surgery center in the country to receive spine fusion certification. The Joint Commission’s Certificate of Distinction in the Management of Spinal Fusion is the highest award an orthopedic spine practice can receive. Summit spine surgeons Dr. Nick Wills and Dr. David Strothman discuss the importance of this certification. And they tell us how it reflects Summit’s commitment to patient care.

“We are very proud to achieve this certification,” says Dr. Strothman. “This award is based on an evaluation by national experts. Consequently, receiving Joint Commission certification is validation of the quality of our care by top experts in the country.”

Joint Commission Certification is a national award

The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that meticulously reviews and certifies disease-specific programs in the United States. The Commission selects specific disease treatments like spine fusion for review and certification. Their certification award recognizes organizations with protocols proven to deliver better outcomes within a practice specialty. Thirteen hospital systems throughout the country have received spine fusion certification. But Summit is the first outpatient surgery center to win it.

“We have worked hard to set up sophisticated safeguards that deliver the best possible outcomes for our patients,” explains Dr. Wills. “We offer the full gamut of exacting surgical techniques. We have also developed standardized protocols for every step of patient care. These include anesthesiology protocols that utilize multimodel anesthesia pain management and limit narcotic use. Our nursing protocols provide meticulous patient preparation, from the first pre-op appointment through post-op recovery. We take enormous pride in the patient experience we deliver. And we know that experience has a measurable impact on medical outcomes.”

Certification is a lengthy and meticulous process. In order to receive the Joint Commission’s spine fusion certification, Summit underwent a thorough review of its compliance with national standards. Summit demonstrated adherence to specific clinical guidelines and met superior care outcome requirements. “Joint Commission certification reflects Summit’s commitment to provide our patients with the very best medical care,” Dr. Wills explains. “It is, in effect, the highest authority in the land.”

Spine Fusion Certification is the most difficult to obtain

Although the commission also accepts accreditation applications for less demanding spine procedures, Summit Orthopedics deliberately applied for spine fusion certification because it is the most difficult certification to obtain. “Within the orthopedic spine specialty, fusions—particularly lumbar spine fusions—are the most complicated spine procedures,” states Dr. Wills. “Because fusion certification is so difficult to get, and because it measures our ability to successfully perform the most complicated spine surgery, we thought that would be the right thing to do. If you can perform the most difficult spine procedures to the highest standards, you are providing an excellent quality of care for every procedure you offer.”

What is spine fusion surgery?

“Spine fusion is a complex surgery that treats nerve compression caused by unstable bones in the spine,” he explains. “This instability can occur at the cervical spine in the neck. Less commonly, it occurs at the lumbar region, in the lower back. Fusion surgery knits the bones together so that the spine is no longer unstable. Fusions are actually quite rare surgeries, but occasionally there’s no other option.”

Surgical expertise with an emphasis on conservative care

Spine fusion certification reflects Summit’s commitment to provide the highest quality of medical care to every patient. “We did not pursue certification because we want to do more spine fusion surgeries,” Dr. Wills points out. “Although this certification demonstrates our fusion expertise, it’s also important to note that 85 percent of our spine patients are successfully treated with conservative therapies. Only 15 percent of patients are referred to a spine surgeon. And only a fraction of those patients need fusion surgery,” says Dr. Wills. “Surgery is our last resort after all other more conservative treatments have been tried.”

“In fact,” says Dr. Strothman, “even when patients are referred for surgery, most of them are successfully treated with less invasive surgeries. Our surgery center offers minimally invasive lumbar decompressions, discectomies, cervical disc arthroplasty, and cervical disc replacements that maintain spine motion.”

Safety is our first priority

“We developed a program meeting the Joint Commission’s demanding standards because we care about patient safety,” says Dr. Wills. “When patients are appropriate surgical candidates, we are dedicated to delivering the gold standard of care. Certification demonstrates that every spine treatment we offer is that much safer and that much better.”

Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive spine expertise

Our back specialists diagnose spine problems and design custom treatment plans built on a conservative, nonsurgical approach. Most patients find relief through treatments including guided injections, specialized physical therapy, biofeedback, exercise, activity modification, and medication. When conservative care does not relieve symptoms, our highly skilled surgeons offer proven, evidence-based surgical options. Together with you, we will determine the right course of action.

Start your journey to a healthy spine. Find your spine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a spine consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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  • Nicholas Wills MD

    Nicholas Wills, M.D.

    “I understand the concern of athletes to get back to their sport and working in combination with our therapists helps them there.”

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  • David H. Strothman, M.D.

    “Spinal disorders are complex and disabling. As your surgeon I will explain your diagnosis and treatment options, both operative and non-operative, in a way that you can understand thereby allowing you to make informed decisions. I am rewarded daily by improving the quality of life of patients receiving my care.”

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  • Edward Santos MD

    Edward Santos, M.D.

    “I am committed to providing the best care possible for all of my patients with spine disorders. I treat each and every patient as I would treat any member of my family. I believe that patients’ concerns and expectations deserve to be heard. I also believe in the importance of having a thorough discussion of both surgical and nonsurgical options, with the goal of relieving pain and restoring function.”

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  • Trevor Wahlquist MD

    Trevor Wahlquist, M.D.

    “Ensuring people are living healthy and active lifestyles is important to me. I strive to work together with patients to find non-operative and operative solutions for their pain, getting them back to the activities and the people that matter most to them.”

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