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Andre E. Boyke, Edward R. Bader, Ishan Naidu, Sharon Lam, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Abigail Funari, and Vijay Agarwal

OBJECTIVE

Among medical practices, surgical fields, including neurosurgery, are at a high risk for medical malpractice litigation. With meningiomas contributing to 10% of the total neurosurgery litigation cases, the aim of this study was to identify demographic characteristics, reasons for litigation, and surgical complications commonly reported in these cases. This analysis serves to increase neurosurgeons’ awareness of factors associated with medical malpractice litigation.

METHODS

The online legal database Westlaw was utilized to query public litigation cases related to the medical management of meningiomas between December 1985 and May 2020. Variables extracted included the following: plaintiff and defendant demographics, litigation category, plaintiff medical complaints, and trial outcomes. The authors compared these characteristics between cases with decisions in favor of the defendant and those with decisions in favor of the plaintiff.

RESULTS

A total of 47 cases met the inclusion criteria. Failure to diagnose (68.1%) was the most common type of malpractice claim, and surgical complications (19.1%), motor weakness (33%), and financial loss (33%) were cited as the most common postoperative complaints. Individual specialties that most often required defense due to malpractice claims were radiology (21.7%) and neurosurgery (19.6%). The jury verdict was in favor of the defense in 51.1% of cases and in favor of the plaintiff in 27.7% of cases. A settlement was reached in 19.1% of cases. The mean payout for a verdict in favor of the plaintiff was $3,409,650.22, while the mean payout for settlements was $867,555.56. The greatest average payout for specialties was in neurosurgery at $3,414,400, followed by radiology at $3,192,960. Cases with a verdict in favor of the plaintiff were more likely to involve an internal medicine physician as a defendant (p = 0.007).

CONCLUSIONS

Over one-half of the cases resulted in a defendant’s verdict with failure to diagnose cited as the most common reason for litigation. Radiology and neurosurgery were the most common specialties for legal cases and also had some of the largest average payouts based on specialty. Motor weakness and financial loss were the most common plaintiff postoperative complaints. These findings may inform surgeons on active measures to take, such as increasing focus on diagnostic accuracy and reducing specific postoperative complaints, such as motor weakness, through risk management and prophylactic measures, to reduce unfavorable legal outcomes.

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Caitlin Hoffman, Melissa Yuan, Andre E. Boyke, Ashley O’Connor, Therese Haussner, Imali Perera, and Mark Souweidane

OBJECTIVE

In recent years, the Weill Cornell neurosurgical team noticed an increase in referrals for plagiocephaly, likely due to increased infant back-sleeping and awareness. A plagiocephaly clinic staffed by a nurse practitioner and a physician assistant was established in 2016 to meet this demand, and to decrease the nonsurgical case burden on neurosurgeons. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of a clinic directed by advanced nonphysician practice providers (NPPs) on parental satisfaction and nonsurgical work hours for staff neurosurgeons.

METHODS

Over a 1.5-year period (from January 1, 2016, to June 20, 2017), Likert scale–based surveys were administered to parents before and after their child’s visit to the NPP-staffed clinic. Clinic hours were tracked to assess impact on the neurosurgeon’s workload.

RESULTS

All 185 patients seen in the plagiocephaly clinic over the 1.5-year period completed pre- and postvisit surveys. Parents all reported a significant reduction in their level of concern for their child’s diagnosis after the evaluation, and 95.5% were “very likely” to recommend the clinic. All parents felt that there was an increase in their knowledge base after an appointment with an NPP. Additionally, over 1 year in the study, 170 visits to the NPP plagiocephaly clinic were recorded, resulting in 85 hours that neurosurgeons normally would have spent in the clinic that they now were able to spend in the operating room.

CONCLUSIONS

This research provides evidence that an NPP-directed clinic can positively impact parental satisfaction and decrease nonsurgical case burden on neurosurgeons.

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Marianne I. J. Tissot, Andre E. Boyke, Alvin Onyewuenyi, Gregory Glauser, Evalyn S. Mackenzie, Bethany J. Thach, and Donald K. E. Detchou

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Rafael Uribe-Cardenas, Andre E. Boyke, Justin T. Schwarz, Peter F. Morgenstern, Jeffrey P. Greenfield, Theodore H. Schwartz, James T. Rutka, James Drake, and Caitlin E. Hoffman

OBJECTIVE

Early surgical intervention for pediatric refractory epilepsy is increasingly advocated as surgery has become safer and data have demonstrated improved outcomes with early seizure control. There is concern that the risks associated with staged invasive electroencephalography (EEG) in very young children outweigh the potential benefits. Here, the authors present a cohort of children with refractory epilepsy who were referred for invasive monitoring, and they evaluate the role and safety of staged invasive EEG in those 3 years old and younger.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of children 3 years and younger with epilepsy, who had been managed surgically at two institutions between 2001 and 2015. A cohort of pediatric patients older than 3 years of age was used for comparison. Demographics, seizure etiology, surgical management, surgical complications, and adverse events were recorded. Statistical analysis was completed using Stata version 13. A p < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Fisher’s exact test was used to compare proportions.

RESULTS

Ninety-four patients (45 patients aged ≤ 3 [47.9%]) and 208 procedures were included for analysis. Eighty-six procedures (41.3%) were performed in children younger than 3 years versus 122 in the older cohort (58.7%). Forty-two patients underwent grid placement (14 patients aged ≤ 3 [33.3%]); 3 of them developed complications associated with the implant (3/42 [7.14%]), none of whom were among the younger cohort. Across all procedures, 11 complications occurred in the younger cohort versus 5 in the older patients (11/86 [12.8%] vs 5/122 [4.1%], p = 0.032). Two adverse events occurred in the younger group versus 1 in the older group (2/86 [2.32%] vs 1/122 [0.82%], p = 0.571). Following grid placement, 13/14 younger patients underwent guided resections compared to 20/28 older patients (92.9% vs 71.4%, p = 0.23).

CONCLUSIONS

While overall complication rates were higher in the younger cohort, subdural grid placement was not associated with an increased risk of surgical complications in that population. Invasive electrocorticography informs management in very young children with refractory, localization-related epilepsy and should therefore be used when clinically indicated.