The Safety in Spine Surgery Project is pleased to announce the First Annual Safety in Spine Surgery month, taking place in April of 2021. The goal of this project is to improve safety in spine surgery by sharing guidelines, techniques, and protocols that make care better, and to share lessons learned from participants who have developed specific, successful safety protocols. This event will feature 2 live webinars and an industry-wide social media campaign throughout April.

Under the leadership of Michael G. Vitale, MD, MPH and co-chairmen John Flynn, MD; Roger Härtl, MD; Larry Lenke, MD; Rajiv Sethi, MD, S3P is partnering with surgeons, allied health care providers, organizations, hospitals, and medical device companies in this effort. It is the belief of the program directors that all major healthcare stakeholders are obligated to invest their expertise and funds to enhance patient safety.

Submission of abstracts and projects summaries is underway for Best New Methodologies and Techniques to Enhance Safety in Spine Surgery. The 10 best submissions will each be awarded $1000 and be featured during one of the live webinars. We encourage our colleagues to submit not only scientific papers, but also any project that has made a difference in spine surgery quality, safety, or value. Submissions are due to Kate Laney by February 19, 2021.

Registration is open for two live webinars, taking place April 15 and April 29. The first will focus on predictive analytics, enabling technology, and innovative techniques to make the OR safer. The second will highlight checklists, guidelines, and tricks to avoid complications and improve neurological safety. Registration is free and can be accessed at this link.

We encourage you to get involved in this effort by submitting abstracts, attending the webinars, and getting active on social media during the month of April. Post your successes and difficulties with the hashtags #safetyinspinesurgery and #s3p. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram for further information.

If your practice, organization, or medical device company would like to partner with us, please contact Kate Laney.

We are looking forward to an exciting month of collaboration!

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The NYP Leadership and Dr. Vitale have made the difficult decision to cancel the 5th Annual Safety in Spine Surgery Summit. This is due to both hospital policies as well as following the CDC current guidelines to limit gatherings of 25 or more people.  Many of our faculty are subject to restrictions on travel and business conferences as well due to COVID-19.

We are still committed to communicating the Safety in Spine Surgery Summit message worldwide.  We are working on filming some of the key content to be made available on-line as a CME module. More details will be available soon, but it will likely be later this spring that those videos are available at the Safety in Spine Surgery website.

If you have already registered for the course, please contact us regarding your refund options and cancel any hotel and travel arrangements.


5th Annual Safety in Spine Surgery Summit Details:

Chair: Michael G. Vitale, MD, MPH


  • John M. Flynn, MD
  • Roger Härtl, MD
  • Rajiv K. Sethi, MD

First do no harm!

Statistics still show unacceptably high numbers of medical and surgical errors. Join us to learn from a diverse faculty about safety and quality advances—plus tips and tools to help us all improve.

Spine surgeons, members of spine surgery teams, OR directors, hospital executives, and more will benefit from this program, and most importantly, so will all of our patients.

Call for Abstracts

Abstract Submission closed on December 13.


Pre-Course Registration: $95

Main Course Registration:
Surgeons: $575
Residents/Fellows/Allied Health: $375
Healthcare Admin/Corporate: $675
Late Fee (After Feb. 11): $75

The Thursday optional pre-course will be held at:
The Warwick New York Hotel
65 W. 54th St.
New York, NY 10019
Map >

All Friday sessions will be held at:
The Heart Conference Center
173 Fort Washington Avenue
New York, NY 10463
Map >

Shuttle service for participants will run between the Warwick and The Heart Conference Center on Friday morning and evening. Further details will be provided in registration confirmation materials.


Hotel Accommodations

S3P Meeting at Warwick Hotel, NY

The Warwick New York Hotel
65 W 54th St.
New York, NY 10019
Map >

The deadline for hotel reservations at our group rate has passed. To inquire about available rooms and rates at the Warwick, please contact Francesca Acosta at (212) 314-7752 or


9.5 hours available

View the videos from presenters at the 4th Annual Safety in Spine Surgery Summit. Learn insights and practical techniques for improvement of safety in spine surgery from experts in the medical field as well as other fields.

Click here to view videos

One of the questions I often received prior to the first annual spine safety summit in 2016 is “why organize another Spine Surgery conference?” My answer is inevitably, “how could we not?”

The time could not be more urgent. At every talk I give, I always like to put the audience in the right mindset, which is “how will the next patient be harmed?” Somewhere out there, there’s a patient coming to your waiting room or in a cab or on a plane that may be harmed. The question isn’t if, but when.

In reality, no one is safe, the patient or the surgeon, including the emotional toll that comes from potentially harming a patient.

As a field, we are not doing well. Even if we pride ourselves with 99.9% positive outcomes, we are still left in the dust by others who are doing better. As a framing picture, we would find this unacceptable if:

  • Amazon failed to deliver 1,600 parcels each day
  • USPS lost 506,000 pieces of mail each day
  • 1,019 surgeries went wrong every month

We always need to ask ourselves, how far would you be willing to go to avoid harm? Often times, the answer isn’t from punishing physicians and nurses. It’s not an issue of bad physicians or nurses harming patients, but a poor system setting up good physicians and nurses that eventually harms patients. Even the most technically skilled and fantastic of surgeons can’t do a great job, unless they have the infrastructure to support them and a team surrounding them with good communication. More and more, with lessons from high reliability organizations such as aviation and nuclear power as well as from the peer-reviewed literature, we are learning that over focusing on the concepts of individual skills undervalues the reality that care is a result of the entire episode of care, requiring a systematic approach to managing everything within the realm of influence, from preoperative access to recovery and rehabilitation.

Just like Jim Reason’s timeless model, the Swiss Cheese Model of Medical Error, if we think about all of the elements of risk, host, technique, systems, and culture, then we realize that medical error and complications occur only when all of the holes line up just right.

As we start this blog, I am hopeful that the Safety in Spine Surgery Project (S3P) will evolve into a platform where we can engage the wisdom of the entire industry to shrink the critical holes that too often lead to poor outcomes for our patients:

  • Variability
  • Lack of Infrastructure
  • Individual Thinking & Decision Making
  • Lack of Information in a Data Rich System
  • Poor Culture

S3P will provide an infrastructure and platform in which we can work together to tackle some of these issues throughout spine surgery and hopefully implement strategies across the board. But we need participation and buy in at ever level, from industry partners, hospitals, peers and colleagues, and each individual physician. Patient safety and quality starts with physicians, but it doesn’t end there.

This is such an exciting time and we would love your feedback on how S3P can take quality in spine surgery to the next level. In future blog posts, we’ll talk more about some of the frameworks for change we envision and the efforts that have evolved as a result. We look forward to hearing from you.