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Member Earns Prestigious Role as a Member of the Commission on Cancer

Member of St. Luke's Earns Prestigious Role as Member of Commission on Cancer

Dr. Thomas Tachovsky appointed to a three-year term

Thomas Tachovsky, MD of St. Luke's Cancer Care Associates, has been appointed to a three-year term as a member of the Commission on Cancer (CoC). The CoC, a multidisciplinary program of the American College of Surgeons, is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving survival and quality of life for cancer patients.

Dr. Tachovsky has been a member of the St. Luke's family since 1969, having served as Chief of Surgery, St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network, from 1990 to 1997. For the past two years, Dr. Tachovsky has been responsible for overseeing quality improvement initiatives for the oncology service line at St. Luke's.

His interest in quality improvement led to an appointment with the CoC as a surveyor, a position he has held since 2001. For the past two years, he has served as field-staff sub-committee chairman for the CoC, overseeing the activities of a group of 50 surveyors. The work has taken him all over the country, conducting surveys for cancer programs including The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston , the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia and the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, among others.

“Surveyors conduct a rigorous analysis and evaluation of cancer programs,” says Dr. Tachovsky. “In order to maintain approval, each cancer program, and the organization that controls it, must undergo this on-site review and performance evaluation every three years.”

Only high quality cancer centers earn recognition from the CoC and patients can feel comfortable about going to an accredited program, according to Dr. Tachovsky. “The standards are very high and have a direct impact on total patient care and safety; approximately one in four hospitals treating cancer patients nationwide receives CoC approval,” he says.

While surveying other cancer programs has allowed Dr. Tachovsky to evaluate processes and recommend changes, it has also allowed him to recommend best practices at home. “It’s a two-way street,” he says. “Certainly, by observing and evaluating others, we can help initiate change to improve patient care, but oftentimes we learn from the success of other organizations as well.”

Now as the newest member of the CoC will, Dr. Tachovsky will be inheriting new responsibilities. “I look forward to expanding my role with this organization,” he says.

About the Commission on Cancer

Established in 1922, the CoC creates standards to ensure quality, multidisciplinary and comprehensive cancer care delivery in health care settings. Membership is comprised of 97 individuals. The group consists of surgeons representing the American College of Surgeons and representatives from the 42 national, professional organizations affiliated with the CoC.

Approval by the CoC is given only to those facilities that have voluntarily committed to provide the best in diagnosis and treatment of cancers. CoC-approved cancer programs meet several criteria and include the ability to provide quality cancer care close to home; comprehensive care offering a range of state-of-the-art services and equipment; a multi-specialty, team approach to coordinate the best treatment options available to cancer patients; access to cancer-related information, education and support; a cancer registry that collects data on type and stage of cancers and treatment results, and offers lifelong patient follow-up; ongoing monitoring and improvement of care; and information about ongoing clinical trials and new treatment options.

Currently, there are more than 1,400 Commission on Cancer approved cancer programs in the United States and Puerto Rico , representing close to 25 percent of all hospitals. St. Luke's Cancer Center is an accredited CoC program and, in 2004, was the only Cancer Center in Pennsylvania to have been recognized with the 2004 Commission on Cancer's Outstanding Achievement Award. This is a three-year recognition.