The UCLA Department of Surgery was founded in 1948 under the leadership of Dr. William P. Longmire Jr. It has since grown to become one of the largest and most renowned surgical departments in the world. Serving as the major academic referral center for Southern California, UCLA Health is a destination for patients with complex medical conditions requiring treatment by world-class surgeons adept at applying the very latest methods and technology.
The UCLA Division of General Surgery, led by Dr. O. Joe Hines, is staffed by 32 full-time, board-certified surgeons practicing in 7 distinct subspecialty areas:
Despite its “general” name, modern general surgery comprises a constellation of highly specific subspecialties, each requiring many years of rigorous training for the development of expertise. General surgery has undergone considerable evolution over the past century and has developed alongside advances in technology. In a word, general surgery refers to surgery of the life-sustaining organs and soft tissues of the body, which are essential for our survival and well-being.
These range from the gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestines), to the endocrine (hormone-secreting) glands, to the abdominal wall (where defects result in hernias), and to the skin and breasts. Through modern medicine’s many changes, general surgeons have remained among the most broadly and thoroughly trained physicians. The deep skill set of the general surgeon is manifest in our frequent involvement in life-threatening situations and the fact that we remain entrusted by society to care for the injured and critically ill.
Today, every hospital, insurance company, and federal health care agency in the world is focused on measuring the quality of health care delivery. What most people do not know is that general surgeons pioneered the field of quality measurement in health care. In the early 1900s, Dr. Ernest Codman, a general surgeon at the Massachusetts General Hospital, proposed an “End Result” system founded on “the common-sense notion that every hospital should follow every patient it treats, long enough to determine whether or not the treatment has been successful, and then to inquire, ‘If not, why not?’ with a view to preventing similar failures in the future.” Dr. Codman’s ideas were integral to the founding of the American College of Surgeons in 1913. Further collaboration between the American College of Surgeons, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the Canadian Medical Association led to the formation of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals in 1951. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Over more than a century, the ideas of a general surgeon have evolved into intricate, large-scale systems and institutions that ensure the safety of patients everywhere.
Following in the tradition of Dr. Codman, modern general surgeons continue to scrutinize every outcome for which we are responsible. All adverse outcomes are discussed at Morbidity and Mortality conference, a weekly forum for open and frank analysis and process improvement. These conferences reflect the fundamental ethos of general surgery, which centers on personal responsibility, discipline, compassion, and above all our commitment to our patients and their families.