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Jian Guan, Michael Karsy, Andrea A. Brock, William T. Couldwell, John R. W. Kestle, Randy L. Jensen, Andrew T. Dailey, Erica F. Bisson and Richard H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Overlapping surgery remains a controversial topic in the medical community. Although numerous studies have examined the safety profile of overlapping operations, there are few data on its financial impact. The authors assessed direct hospital costs associated with neurosurgical operations during periods before and after a more stringent overlapping surgery policy was implemented.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of nonemergency neurosurgical operations that took place during the periods from June 1, 2014, to October 31, 2014 (pre–policy change), and from June 1, 2016, to October 31, 2016 (post–policy change), by any of the 4 senior neurosurgeons authorized to perform overlapping cases during both periods. Cost data as well as demographic, surgical, and hospitalization-related variables were obtained from an institutional tool, the Value-Driven Outcomes database.

RESULTS

A total of 625 hospitalizations met inclusion criteria for cost analysis; of these, 362 occurred prior to the policy change and 263 occurred after the change. All costs were reported as a proportion of the average total hospitalization cost for the entire cohort. There was no significant difference in mean total hospital costs between the prechange and postchange period (0.994 ± 1.237 vs 1.009 ± 0.994, p = 0.873). On multivariate linear regression analysis, neither the policy change (p = 0.582) nor the use of overlapping surgery (p = 0.273) was significantly associated with higher total hospital costs.

CONCLUSIONS

A more restrictive overlapping surgery policy was not associated with a reduction in the direct costs of hospitalization for neurosurgical procedures.

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Jian Guan, Andrea A. Brock, Michael Karsy, William T. Couldwell, Meic H. Schmidt, John R. W. Kestle, Randy L. Jensen, Andrew T. Dailey and Richard H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Overlapping surgery—the performance of parts of 2 or more surgical procedures at the same time by a single lead surgeon—has recently come under intense scrutiny, although data on the effects of overlapping procedures on patient outcomes are lacking. The authors examined the impact of overlapping surgery on complication rates in neurosurgical patients.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of consecutive nonemergent neurosurgical procedures performed during the period from May 12, 2014, to May 12, 2015, by any of 5 senior neurosurgeons at a single institution who were authorized to schedule overlapping cases. Overlapping surgery was defined as any case in which 2 patients under the care of a single lead surgeon were under anesthesia at the same time for any duration. Information on patient demographics, premorbid conditions, surgical variables, and postoperative course were collected and analyzed. Primary outcome was the occurrence of any complication from the beginning of surgery to 30 days after discharge. A secondary outcome was the occurrence of a serious complication—defined as a life-threatening or life-ending event—during this same period.

RESULTS

One thousand eighteen patients met the inclusion criteria for the study. Of these patients, 475 (46.7%) underwent overlapping surgery. Two hundred seventy-one patients (26.6%) experienced 1 or more complications, with 134 (13.2%) suffering a serious complication. Fourteen patients in the cohort died, a rate of 1.4%. The overall complication rate was not significantly higher for overlapping cases than for nonoverlapping cases (26.3% vs 26.9%, p = 0.837), nor was the rate of serious complications (14.7% vs 11.8%, p = 0.168). After adjustments for surgery type, surgery duration, body mass index, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical classification grade, and intraoperative blood loss, overlapping surgery remained unassociated with overall complications (OR 0.810, 95% CI 0.592–1.109, p = 0.189). Similarly, after adjustments for surgery type, surgery duration, body mass index, ASA grade, and neurological comorbidity, there was no association between overlapping surgery and serious complications (OR 0.979, 95% CI 0.661–1.449, p = 0.915).

CONCLUSIONS

In this cohort, patients undergoing overlapping surgery did not have an increased risk for overall complications or serious complications. Although this finding suggests that overlapping surgery can be performed safely within the appropriate framework, further investigation is needed in other specialties and at other institutions.

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Jian Guan, Michael Karsy, Andrea A. Brock, William T. Couldwell, John R. W. Kestle, Randy L. Jensen, Andrew T. Dailey and Richard H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Recently, overlapping surgery has been a source of controversy both in the popular press and within the academic medical community. There have been no studies examining the possible effects of more stringent overlapping surgery restrictions. At the authors’ institution, a new policy was implemented that restricts attending surgeons from starting a second case until all critical portions of the first case that could require the attending surgeon’s involvement are completed. The authors examined the impact of this policy on complication rates, neurosurgical resident education, and wait times for neurosurgical procedures.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective chart review of nonemergency neurosurgical procedures performed over two periods—from June 1, 2014, to October 31, 2014 (pre–policy change) and from June 1, 2016, to October 31, 2016 (post–policy change)—by any of 4 senior neurosurgeons at a single institution who were authorized to schedule overlapping cases. Information on preoperative evaluation, patient demographics, premorbid conditions, surgical variables, and postoperative course were collected and analyzed.

RESULTS

Six hundred fifty-three patients met inclusion criteria for complications analysis. Of these, 378 (57.9%) underwent surgery before the policy change. On multivariable regression analysis, neither overlapping surgery (odds ratio [OR] 1.072, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.710–1.620) nor the overlapping surgery policy change (OR 1.057, 95% CI 0.700–1.596) was associated with overall complication rates. Similarly, neither overlapping surgery (OR 1.472, 95% CI 0.883–2.454) nor the overlapping surgery policy change (OR 1.251, 95% CI 0.748–2.091) was associated with numbers of serious complications. After the policy change, the percentage of procedures in which the senior assistant was a postresidency fellow increased significantly, from 11.9% to 34.2% (p < 0.001). In a multiple linear regression analysis of surgery wait times, patients undergoing surgery after the policy change had significantly longer delays from the decision to operate until the actual neurosurgical procedure (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

At the authors’ institution, further restriction of overlapping surgery was not associated with a reduction in overall or serious complications. Resident involvement in neurosurgical procedures decreased significantly after the policy change, and this study suggests that wait times for neurosurgical procedures also significantly lengthened.