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Meic H. Schmidt, Frederick A. Boop, Neil A. Martin and Jonathan R. Slotkin

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Sergei Terterov, Nancy McLaughlin, Harry Vinters and Neil A. Martin

Angiographically occult cerebral vascular malformations (AOVMs) are usually found in the supratentorial brain parenchyma. Uncommonly, AOVMs can be found within the cavernous sinus or basal cisterns and can be associated with cranial nerves. AOVMs involving the intracranial segment of the spinal accessory nerve have not been described. A 46-year-old female patient presented with a history of episodic frontal headaches and episodes of nausea and dizziness, as well as gait instability progressing over 6 months prior to evaluation. Imaging revealed a well-circumscribed 3-cm extraaxial T1-weighted isointense and T2-weighted hyperintense contrast-enhancing mass centered in the region of the right lateral cerebellomedullary cistern. The patient underwent resection of the lesion. Although the intraoperative appearance was suggestive of a cavernous malformation, some histological findings were atypical, leading to the final diagnosis of vascular malformation, not otherwise specified. The patient’s postoperative course was uneventful with complete resolution of symptoms. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first report of an AOVM involving the intracranial portion of the accessory nerve. For any AOVM located within the cerebellomedullary cistern or one suspected of involving a cranial nerve, the authors recommend including immunohistochemistry with primary antibody to neurofilament in the histopathology workup.

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Nancy McLaughlin, Matthew C. Garrett, Leila Emami, Sarah K. Foss, Johanna L. Klohn and Neil A. Martin

OBJECT

While malpractice litigation has had many negative impacts on health care delivery systems, information extracted from lawsuits could potentially guide toward venues to improve care. The authors present a comprehensive review of lawsuits within a tertiary academic neurosurgical department and report institutional and departmental strategies to mitigate liability by integrating risk management data with quality improvement initiatives.

METHODS

The Comprehensive Risk Intelligence Tool database was interrogated to extract claims/suits abstracts concerning neurosurgical cases that were closed from January 2008 to December 2012. Variables included demographics of the claimant, type of procedure performed (if any), claim description, insured information, case outcome, clinical summary, contributing factors and subfactors, amount incurred for indemnity and expenses, and independent expert opinion in regard to whether the standard of care was met.

RESULTS

During the study period, the Department of Neurosurgery received the most lawsuits of all surgical specialties (30 of 172), leading to a total incurred payment of $4,949,867. Of these lawsuits, 21 involved spinal pathologies and 9 cranial pathologies. The largest group of suits was from patients with challenging medical conditions who underwent uneventful surgeries and postoperative courses but filed lawsuits when they did not see the benefits for which they were hoping; 85% of these claims were withdrawn by the plaintiffs. The most commonly cited contributing factors included clinical judgment (20 of 30), technical skill (19 of 30), and communication (6 of 30).

CONCLUSIONS

While all medical and surgical subspecialties must deal with the issue of malpractice and liability, neurosurgery is most affected both in terms of the number of suits filed as well as monetary amounts awarded. To use the suits as learning tools for the faculty and residents and minimize the associated costs, quality initiatives addressing the most frequent contributing factors should be instituted in care redesign strategies, enabling strategic alignment of quality improvement and risk management efforts.

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Nestor R. Gonzalez, Joshua R. Dusick, Mark Connolly, Firas Bounni, Neil A. Martin, Barbara Van de Wiele, David S. Liebeskind and Jeffrey L. Saver

OBJECT

Encephaloduroarteriosynangiosis (EDAS) is a form of revascularization that has shown promising early results in the treatment of adult patients with moyamoya disease (MMD) and more recently in patients with intracranial atherosclerotic steno-occlusive disease (ICASD). Herein the authors present the long-term results of a single-center experience with EDAS for adult MMD and ICASD.

METHODS

Patients with ischemic symptoms despite intensive medical therapy were considered for EDAS. All patients undergoing EDAS were included. Clinical data, including recurrence of transient ischemic attack (TIA) and/or stroke, functional status, and death, were collected from a retrospective data set and a prospective cohort. Perren revascularization and American Society of Interventional and Therapeutic Neuroradiology/Society of Interventional Radiology (ASITN/SIR) collateral grades were recorded from angiograms.

RESULTS

A total of 107 EDAS procedures were performed in 82 adults (36 with ICASD and 46 with MMD). During a median follow-up of 22 months, 2 (2.4%) patients had strokes; both patients were in the ICASD group. TIA-free survival and stroke-free survival analyses were performed using the product limit estimator (Kaplan-Meier) method. The probability of stroke-free survival at 2 years in the ICASD group was 94.3% (95% CI 80%–98.6%). No patient in the MMD group suffered a stroke. The probability of TIA-free survival at 2 years was 89.4% (95% CI 74.7%–96%) in ICASD and 99.7% (95% CI 87.5%–99.9%) in MMD. There were no hemorrhages or stroke-related deaths. Angiograms in 85.7% of ICASD and 92% of MMD patients demonstrated Perren Grade 3 and improvement in ASITN/SIR grade in all cases.

CONCLUSIONS

EDAS is well tolerated in adults with MMD and ICASD and improves collateral circulation to territories at risk. The rates of stroke after EDAS are lower than those reported with other treatments, including intensive medical therapy in patients with ICASD.

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Nancy McLaughlin, Peng Jin and Neil A. Martin

OBJECT

Review of morbidities and mortality has been the primary method used to assess surgical quality by physicians, hospitals, and oversight agencies. The incidence of reoperation has been proposed as a candidate quality indicator for surgical care. The authors report a comprehensive assessment of reoperations within a neurosurgical department and discuss how such data can be integrated into quality improvement initiatives to optimize value of care delivery.

METHODS

All neurosurgical procedures performed in the main operating room or the outpatient surgery center at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center from July 2008 to December 2012 were considered for this study. Interventional radiology and stereotactic radiosurgery procedures were excluded. Early reoperations within 7 days of the index surgery were reviewed and their preventability status was evaluated.

RESULTS

The incidence of early unplanned reoperation was 2.6% (occurring after 183 of 6912 procedures). More than half of the patients who underwent early unplanned reoperation initially had surgery for shunt-related conditions (34.4%) or intracranial tumor (23.5%). Shunt failure was the most common indication for early unplanned reoperation (34.4%), followed by postoperative bleeding (20.8%) and postoperative elevated intracranial pressure (9.8%). The average time interval (± SD) between the index surgery and reoperation was 3.0 ± 1.9 days. The average length of stay following reoperation was 12.1 ± 14.4 days.

CONCLUSIONS

This study enabled an in-depth assessment of reoperations within an academic neurosurgical practice and identification of strategic opportunities for department-wide quality improvement initiatives. The authors provide a nuanced discussion regarding the use of absolute reoperations as a quality indicator for neurosurgical patient populations.

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Nancy McLaughlin, Neil A. Martin, Pooja Upadhyaya, Ausaf A. Bari, Farzad Buxey, Marilene B. Wang, Anthony P. Heaney and Marvin Bergsneider

Object

Knowledge of the costs incurred through the delivery of neurosurgical care has been lagging, making it challenging to design impactful cost-containment initiatives. In this report, the authors describe a detailed cost analysis for pituitary surgery episodes of care and demonstrate the importance of such analyses in helping to identify high-impact cost activities and drive value-based care.

Methods

This was a retrospective study of consecutively treated patients undergoing an endoscopic endonasal procedure for the resection of a pituitary adenoma after implementation and maturation of quality-improvement initiatives and the implementation of cost-containment initiatives.

Results

The cost data pertaining to 27 patients were reviewed. The 2 most expensive cost activities during the index hospitalization were the total operating room (OR) and total bed-assignment costs. Together, these activities represented more than 60% of the cost of hospitalization. Although value-improvement initiatives contributed to the reduction of variation in the total cost of hospitalization, specific cost activities remained relatively variable, namely the following: 1) OR charged supplies, 2) postoperative imaging, and 3) use of intraoperative neuromonitoring. These activities, however, each contributed to less than 10% of the cost of hospitalization. Bed assignment was the fourth most variable cost activity. Cost related to readmission/reoperation represented less than 5% of the total cost of the surgical episode of care.

Conclusions

After completing a detailed assessment of costs incurred throughout the management of patients undergoing pituitary surgery, high-yield opportunities for cost containment should be identified among the most expensive activities and/or those with the highest variation. Strategies for safely reducing the use of the targeted resources, and related costs incurred, should be developed by the multidisciplinary team providing care for this patient population.

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Nancy McLaughlin, Michael K. Ong, Victor Tabbush, Farhad Hagigi and Neil A. Martin

Economic evaluations provide a decision-making framework in which outcomes (benefits) and costs are assessed for various alternative options. Although the interest in complete and partial economic evaluations has increased over the past 2 decades, the quality of studies has been marginal due to methodological challenges or incomplete cost determination. This paper provides an overview of the main types of complete and partial economic evaluations, reviews key methodological elements to be considered for any economic evaluation, and reviews concepts of cost determination. The goal is to provide the clinician neurosurgeon with the knowledge and tools needed to appraise published economic evaluations and to direct high-quality health economic evaluations.

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Nancy McLaughlin, Alexander A. Khalessi and Neil A. Martin

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Nancy McLaughlin, Alexander A. Khalessi and Neil A. Martin

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Nancy McLaughlin, Michael A. Burke, Nisheeta P. Setlur, Douglas R. Niedzwiecki, Alan L. Kaplan, Christopher Saigal, Aman Mahajan, Neil A. Martin and Robert S. Kaplan

Object

To date, health care providers have devoted significant efforts to improve performance regarding patient safety and quality of care. To address the lagging involvement of health care providers in the cost component of the value equation, UCLA Health piloted the implementation of time-driven activity-based costing (TDABC). Here, the authors describe the implementation experiment, share lessons learned across the care continuum, and report how TDABC has actively engaged health care providers in costing activities and care redesign.

Methods

After the selection of pilots in neurosurgery and urology and the creation of the TDABC team, multidisciplinary process mapping sessions, capacity-cost calculations, and model integration were coordinated and offered to engage care providers at each phase.

Results

Reviewing the maps for the entire episode of care, varying types of personnel involved in the delivery of care were noted: 63 for the neurosurgery pilot and 61 for the urology pilot. The average cost capacities for care coordinators, nurses, residents, and faculty were $0.70 (range $0.63–$0.75), $1.55 (range $1.28–$2.04), $0.58 (range $0.56–$0.62), and $3.54 (range $2.29–$4.52), across both pilots. After calculating the costs for material, equipment, and space, the TDABC model enabled the linking of a specific step of the care cycle (who performed the step and its duration) and its associated costs. Both pilots identified important opportunities to redesign care delivery in a costconscious fashion.

Conclusions

The experimentation and implementation phases of the TDABC model have succeeded in engaging health care providers in process assessment and costing activities. The TDABC model proved to be a catalyzing agent for cost-conscious care redesign.