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The Joint Commission and National Quality Forum announce 2023 Eisenberg Awards recipients

Prestigious awards program recognizes Veterans Health Administration, BMC2, and Eduardo Salas of Rice University Tuesday, February 13, 2024

(OAKBROOK TERRACE, Illinois, February 13, 2024) – The Joint Commission and National Quality Forum (NQF) today announced the recipients of the 2023 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards. The Eisenberg Awards recognize major achievements by individuals and organizations that improved patient safety and healthcare quality.

This year’s honorees improved safety and quality of care by making surgery safer for at-risk patients, reducing radiation exposure and opioid risks for cardiovascular patients, and making foundational improvements to coordination and teamwork among healthcare providers.

Each year, awards are presented for national-level innovation, local-level innovation and individual achievement. The 2023 awardees are:

  • National Level Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality: The Surgical Pause – Veterans Health Administration
  • Local Level Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality: Creating a Culture of Quality for Cardiovascular Care in Michigan – BMC2
  • Individual Achievement: Eduardo Salas, PhD, Rice University

“Each year, the Eisenberg Awards showcase innovative healthcare quality and patient safety efforts that have had a significant demonstrable impact on improving patient outcomes and reducing avoidable healthcare harms,” said Dana Gelb Safran, ScD, president and chief executive officer, NQF. “The work of this year’s individual and institutional recipients embodies the legacy of Dr. Eisenberg, who was a visionary pioneer and change-maker committed to translating research into real-world delivery system improvements that ensure safe, reliable, and effective care for every patient in every setting. The Joint Commission and NQF are proud to recognize these outstanding innovators as we continue to honor Dr. Eisenberg’s enduring contributions to our field.”

Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is recognized for its initiative the Surgical Pause, which reduced six-month mortality of patients determined to be “frail” from 25% to 8% at three VA medical centers. Under the initiative, providers implemented routine frailty screening with the Risk Analysis Index to identify patients at the highest risk of postoperative complications, loss of independence, and mortality. For patients found to be frail, a brief “pause” permits further evaluation. For patients who pursue surgery, multidisciplinary care plans are implemented to reduce frailty-associated risks before surgery, shifting the paradigm and effort to strengthening the frail patient and mitigating potential complications before they happen. Further analysis of more than 50,000 patients found that one-year mortality declined by 4.2%. As a result of this success, the Surgical Pause has been replicated across more than 50 medical centers across VA and the private sector.

BMC2 (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Cardiovascular Consortium) is a statewide quality improvement collaborative that develops and administers a portfolio of quality improvement interventions for patients who undergo percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI), vascular surgical procedures, and transcatheter valve procedures in Michigan. As a result of the initiative Creating a Culture of Quality for Cardiovascular Care in Michigan, BMC2 participant sites:

  • Improved documentation of radiation use from 73.1% in 2019 to 85.5% in 2021. BMC2 sites are outperforming national rates, which were 57.5% in 2019 and 74.3% in 2021.
  • Achieved an overall 43% decrease in cases with high-dose radiation exposure (2.8% in 2018 to 1.2% in 2021) for hundreds of patients and catheterization laboratory staff members.
  • Reduced opioid pill prescribing. Data showed improvement in the rate of patients with a prescription for fewer than 10 opioid pills, increasing from 62% in 2018 to 91% in 2021.

Eduardo Salas, PhD, of Rice University, is recognized for his tremendous body of work across 40 years designing, developing, and evaluating evidence-based principles and tools to help healthcare organizations create a culture of teamwork and safety. Most notable is his development of TeamSTEPPS™ (Team Strategies & Tools to Enhance Performance & Patient Safety), a coordination and teamwork framework that has been adopted by 70% of U.S. hospitals to help reduce medical errors. Salas is a prolific scholar and has published more than 420 journal articles in top-tier journals and two books, edited 36 books and 247 book chapters, and has bestowed hundreds of presentations. His work has been cited more than 132,000 times.

“Congratulations to Veterans Health Administration, BMC2, and Eduardo Salas, for their tremendous achievements worthy of the 2023 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards,” said Jonathan B. Perlin, MD, PhD, MSHA, MACP, FACMI, president and chief executive officer, The Joint Commission enterprise. “We envision a future where all people always experience the safest, highest quality healthcare across all settings. The accomplishments by the 2023 Eisenberg awardees serve as examples of inspirational, yet replicable efforts enabling healthcare organizations to drive real improvements to patient safety and quality.”

To learn more about the achievements and strategies of each awardee, visit The Joint Commission and NQF websites. The achievements of each awardee will also be featured in a special issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety later this year.

Launched in 2002, the awards honor the late John M. Eisenberg, MD, MBA, former administrator of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). An impassioned advocate for healthcare quality improvement, Dr. Eisenberg was a founding member of NQF’s board of directors. The next Eisenberg Awards submission period is expected to open in summer 2024. Sign up for email alerts.


About The Joint Commission

Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve healthcare for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating healthcare organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 22,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in healthcare. Learn more about The Joint Commission at

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About National Quality Forum

The National Quality Forum (NQF) is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan, membership-based organization that works to improve healthcare outcomes, safety, equity, and affordability. Our unique role is to bring all voices to our table to forge multi-stakeholder consensus on quality measurement and improvement standards and practices that achieve measurable health improvements for all. NQF is a proud affiliate of The Joint Commission. Learn more at

NQF Media Contact:

Zachary Brousseau
(202) 478-9326