Kansas City,
08:43 AM

Children’s Mercy Verified as Level 1 Children’s Surgery Center: What it Means and Why it Matters

Dr. Shawn St. Peter, Surgeon-in-Chief

When your child needs surgery, whether routine or a life-saving procedure, you want the best surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, radiologists and intensivists who specialize in taking care of children. I’m proud to say Children’s Mercy was recently verified as a level 1 Children’s Surgery Center by the American College of Surgeons (ACS). This means we’ve met national quality and safety standards that only a handful of other Children’s hospitals have achieved. Children’s Mercy is one of only 10 pediatric hospitals in the country, and the only hospital in Missouri and Kansas, to be verified as a Level 1 Children’s Surgery Center.

Why Level 1 Verification Matters

Children’s Mercy has the highest level of neonatal and pediatric intensive care units supported by every pediatric subspecialty, which is unique to the region. We are prepared for any circumstance around the clock with pediatric specialists. It doesn’t matter how sick your child is or how urgent the situation, we can take care of your child.

What many people don’t realize is we also take care of the less complex conditions; fractures, ear tubes, tonsils, and endoscopy. We understand for parents there is no common or routine surgery, which is why every child has access to the same resources and specialists that allowed us to achieve the Level 1 verification.

These capabilities are important regardless of the type of surgery. We only have pediatric anesthesiologists who are vastly experienced with assuring your child has a safe and smooth anesthetic experience from providing comfort and limiting anxiety, to the technical aspects of starting an IV when veins aren’t visible, protecting the small airways and fragile lungs, and producing an uneventful emergence from anesthesia.

The pediatric anesthesiologists understand kids are not just smaller-sized adults and administer anesthesia for more than 27,000 kids per year – that’s 74 per day. Most adult hospitals only treat about 200 kids a year – less than one a day. While routine procedures go well the majority of the time in centers that are not dedicated to children, complications happen. As part of the verification process we had to prove we have the experts and systems in place to handle any scenario and provide the highest level of care. When the situation becomes complicated anywhere in the region, the child will be brought emergently to Children’s Mercy. Knowing your child is being cared for in the center with the capacity for handling the highest levels of complexity and the most unexpected complications provides peace of mind.

How are Hospitals Verified?

The ACS was founded over a hundred years ago with the goal of improving the quality of care for the surgical patient by setting high standards for surgical education and practice. The recent verification is based on other nationally recognized American College of Surgeons programs that have set the highest standard of care. By joining this elite group of Level 1 Children’s Surgery Centers, we are contributing to the innovation of pediatric surgery, which impacts the lives of children right here in Kansas City and elsewhere.

To become a verified center, we had to meet the following criteria:

  • Have appropriately-trained and experienced staff to ensure the best surgical care for pediatric patients.

  • Dedicated resources to take care of the most complex conditions.

  • Provide ongoing education to families, community pediatricians, emergency personnel and fellowship programs.

  • Participate in a national data registry that yields semiannual reports of quality for processes and outcomes, and identify opportunities for continuous quality improvements.

  • Robust academic research program that brings evidence-based science into clinical practice at the bedside.

The review process was rigorous and stringent. After we submitted our 75 page application, we underwent a thorough site visit by an ACS team of surveyors who reviewed our structure, process and clinical outcomes. The team, which consist of experienced children’s surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses, were onsite for two days and visited all areas of the hospital to make sure we have the people, resources, culture of safety and administrative support to ensure patients receive the highest level of care.

Ongoing Commitment

We take our obligation as a Level 1 Surgery Center seriously. This means continually reviewing clinical data to support a top-notch performance improvement system, which assures we perpetually identify opportunities for improvement as part of the commitment to you and your family that you receive the safest pediatric surgery care in the region.


Learn more about the Department of Surgery at Children's Mercy.