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SEATTLE - (Dec. 22, 2009) — The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has recognized four Virginia Mason providers in its new Back Pain Recognition Program. Only five providers in Washington state have received the recognition. The Virginia Mason providers include Thomas B. Curtis, MD, Andrew Friedman, MD, Julie Ann Hodapp, MD, and Antoine D. Jones, MD. 

Treatment for uncomplicated low back pain varies widely among U.S. health care providers. While most physicians follow the recommended approach of pain management and gradual return to physical activity, some prematurely prescribe costly imaging, epidural steroid injections, or refer patients to surgery.

The NCQA Back Pain Recognition Program (BPRP) seeks to recognize physicians and chiropractors who deliver evidence-based care to millions of Americans who suffer from low back pain. The BPRP program consists of 13 clinical measures and three structural standards such as the elements of the physical exam and advice for the return to normal activities. These requirements address the broad spectrum of low back pain and focus on underuse, misuse and overuse of treatment modalities.

"'Do no harm' is a bedrock principle of medicine. But needless tests and procedures that provide no real benefit to the patient can't do anything but harm," said NCQA President Margaret E. O'Kane. Since inception of the program, NCQA has received unprecedented response from caregivers in support of the quality standards.

"Virginia Mason is well known for delivering multi-disciplinary, timely and cost-effective care for low back pain," said Andrew Friedman, MD, medical director of the Spine Clinic at Virginia Mason. "This national recognition is a wonderful validation of the team's work to focus on quality outcomes and patient satisfaction using evidence-based medicine."

NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA is the nation's leading developer of health care evaluation tools, including health plan accreditation, physician recognition and organization certification. NCQA also is responsible for the evolution of HEDIS®, the nation's most widely used set of health care performance measures. NCQA is committed to providing health care quality information through the Web, media and data licensing agreements in order to help consumers, employers and others make more informed health choices. For more information, visit

About Virginia Mason Medical Center
Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a non-profit comprehensive regional health-care system in Seattle that combines a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 440 physicians with a 336-bed acute-care hospital. Virginia Mason operates a network of clinics throughout the Puget Sound area; manages Bailey-Boushay House, a nursing residence and Chronic Care Management program for people living with HIV and AIDS; and operates Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, internationally recognized in autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason is known for applying manufacturing principles to health care to improve quality and patient safety.

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