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Posted on: June 19th, 2013


Spine Care Center physicians Dr. Edward Mark, Jr., Dr. Hitham Khalil, Dr. Eric Gee, and South Georgia Medical Center CEO Randy Sauls accept the Excellence in Spine Care Award presented by at a press conference held Wednesday. (Not pictured is Spine Care Center physician James Goss, DO).

Valdosta, GA – Spine Surgery at South Georgia Medical Center and it’s Smith Northview Campus was ranked #1 in Georgia according to a recent report from Healthgrades, the leading provider of information to help consumers make informed decisions about physicians/hospitals. The report, American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2013: Healthgrades Report to the Nation, evaluates how approximately 4,500 hospitals nationwide performed on risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates for nearly 30 of the most common conditions treated and procedures performed from 2009 through 2011.

Not only was SGMC’s spine surgery rated #1 in Georgia, but its spine care was also in the top 10 percent in the nation, receiving a 5-star rating for: Spine Surgery and Spine Fusion for 2 years in a row (2012-2013) and Back and Neck Surgery (Except Fusion) in 2013. Physician members of the Spine Surgery team are: Eric Gee, MD, James Goss, DO, Hitham Khalil, MD and Edward Mark, Jr., MD. “This national and state recognition signifies an important milestone in spine surgery excellence for the South Georgia Health System and our Spine Care Centers at the SGMC Main Campus and Smith Northview Campus,” stated Randy Sauls, CEO.

“The awards validate the decisions of more than 1,500 spine patients between 2009 and 2011, who made the decision to have a surgical procedure performed locally.”Hospital outcomes and complication rates are important to consumers making choices about their health care. According to new research conducted by Harris Interactive, 90 percent of Americans in 27 top designated market areas agree they would be more likely to choose—or not choose—a hospital if they could learn ahead of time their chances of complications for a certain procedure.

For its analysis, Healthgrades evaluated approximately 40 million Medicare hospitalization records for services performed at approximately 4,500 short-term, acute care hospitals nationwide. Patients being treated in hospitals receiving five stars have, on average, a 61 percent lower risk of experiencing a complication while in the hospital than if they were treated by hospitals receiving one star (based on 2009-2011 data across nine common procedures and diagnoses such as total knee replacement, gallbladder and spine surgeries).

Additionally, a total of 183,534 in-hospital complications could have been avoided if all hospitals performed at a 5-star level. The 2013 Healthgrades hospital quality outcomes are free to the public at independently measures hospitals based on data that hospitals submit to the federal government. No hospital can opt in or out of the analysis and no hospital pays to be measured.

Healthgrades risk adjusts for patient demographic characteristics and clinical risk factors, thereby taking into account how sick patients are upon admission. More information on the report, including the complete methodology, can be found at