“Changing our culture to advance patient safety” served as the theme of the 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and is an issue of personal importance to the author. To improve outcomes for patients and prevent avoidable surgical errors, neurosurgeons must change the culture that currently exists in the operating room so that safety concerns are of the utmost importance and that each member of the care team has a personal sense of accountability. Doing this will involve implementing and consistently applying systems-based strategies to ensure an adequate level of safeguards; improving communication with all members of the care team and dismantling authority gradients; and maintaining a well-trained and well-rested workforce.
The 2013 AANS Presidential Address
Mitchel S. Berger, Robert M. Wachter, S. Ryan Greysen, and Catherine Y. Lau
John D. Rolston, Seunggu J. Han, Catherine Y. Lau, Mitchel S. Berger, and Andrew T. Parsa
Surgical complications increase the cost of health care worldwide and directly contribute to patient morbidity and mortality. In an effort to mitigate morbidity and incentivize best practices, stakeholders such as health insurers and the US government are linking reimbursement to patient outcomes. In this study the authors analyzed a national database to determine basic metrics of how comorbidities specifically affect the subspecialty of neurosurgery.
Data on 1,777,035 patients for the years 2006–2011 were acquired from the American College of Surgeons (ACS) National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database. Neurosurgical cases were extracted by querying the data for which the surgical specialty was listed as “neurological surgery.” Univariate statistics were calculated using the chi-square test, and 95% confidence intervals were determined for the resultant risk ratios. A multivariate model was constructed using significant variables from the univariate analysis (p < 0.05) with binary logistic regression.
Over 38,000 neurosurgical cases were analyzed, with complications occurring in 14.3%. Cranial cases were 2.6 times more likely to have complications than spine cases, and African Americans and Asians/Pacific Islanders were also at higher risk. The most frequent complications were bleeding requiring transfusion (4.5% of patients) and reoperation within 30 days of the initial operation (4.3% of patients), followed by failure to wean from mechanical ventilation postoperatively (2.5%). Significant predictors of complications included preoperative stroke, sepsis, blood transfusion, and chronic steroid use.
Understanding the landscape of neurosurgical complications will allow better targeting of the most costly and harmful complications of preventive measures. Data from the ACS NSQIP database provide a starting point for developing paradigms of improved care of neurosurgical patients.
Catherine Y. Lau, S. Ryan Greysen, Rita I. Mistry, Seunggu J. Han, Praveen V. Mummaneni, and Mitchel S. Berger
Surgical and medical errors result from failures in communication and handoffs as well as lack of standardization in clinical protocols and safety practices. Checklists, simulation training, and teamwork training have been shown to decrease adverse patient events and increase the safety culture of surgical teams. The goal of this project was to simplify and standardize perioperative patient safety practices and team communication processes within operative neurosurgery through the creation of an educational safety video targeted at a neurosurgical provider audience.
A multidisciplinary group consisting of neurosurgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, neuromonitoring specialists, quality champions, and a professional video production company met over several months in an iterative process to 1) determine the overall objectives of the video, 2) decide on the content and format of the video, 3) modify the proposed content and format based on stakeholder feedback, and 4) record the video and complete final revisions during postproduction.
The video was launched within the authors' institution in July 2012 in conjunction with ongoing research projects to study the effects of the video on 1) multidisciplinary providers' knowledge of perioperative safety practices, 2) provider safety attitudes and safety culture in the operating room, and 3) provider behavior in performing predetermined elements of the preoperative timeout and postoperative debrief.
The neurosurgical perioperative safety video can serve as a national model for how quality champions can drive changes in safety culture and provider behavior among multidisciplinary perioperative patient care teams. Ongoing research is being performed to assess the impact of the video on provider knowledge, behavior, and safety attitudes and culture.
Andrew K. Chan, Alvin Y. Chan, Darryl Lau, Beata Durcanova, Catherine A. Miller, Paul S. Larson, Philip A. Starr, and Praveen V. Mummaneni
Camptocormia is a potentially debilitating condition in the progression of Parkinson’s disease (PD). It is described as an abnormal forward flexion while standing that resolves when lying supine. Although the condition is relatively common, the underlying pathophysiology and optimal treatment strategy are unclear. In this study, the authors systematically reviewed the current surgical management strategies for camptocormia.
PubMed was queried for primary studies involving surgical intervention for camptocormia in PD patients. Studies were excluded if they described nonsurgical interventions, provided only descriptive data, or were case reports. Secondarily, data from studies describing deep brain stimulation (DBS) to the subthalamic nuclei were extracted for potential meta-analysis. Variables showing correlation to improvement in sagittal plane bending angle (i.e., the vertical angle caused by excessive kyphosis) were subjected to formal meta-analysis.
The query resulted in 9 studies detailing treatment of camptocormia: 1 study described repetitive trans-spinal magnetic stimulation (rTSMS), 7 studies described DBS, and 1 study described deformity surgery. Five studies were included for meta-analysis. The total number of patients was 66. The percentage of patients with over 50% decrease in sagittal plane imbalance with DBS was 36.4%. A duration of camptocormia of 2 years or less was predictive of better outcomes (OR 4.15).
Surgical options include transient, external spinal stimulation; DBS targeting the subthalamic nuclei; and spinal deformity surgery. Benefit from DBS stimulation was inconsistent. Spine surgery corrected spinal imbalance but was associated with a high complication rate.
Seunggu J. Han, Rajiv Saigal, John D. Rolston, Jason S. Cheng, Catherine Y. Lau, Rita I. Mistry, Michael W. McDermott, and Mitchel S. Berger
Given economic limitations and burgeoning health care costs, there is a need to minimize unnecessary diagnostic laboratory tests.
The authors studied whether a financial incentive program for trainees could lead to fewer unnecessary laboratory tests in neurosurgical patients in a large, 600-bed academic hospital setting. The authors identified 5 laboratory tests that ranked in the top 13 of the most frequently ordered during the 2010–2011 fiscal year, yet were least likely to be abnormal or influence patient management.
In a single year of study, there was a 47% reduction in testing of serum total calcium, ionized calcium, chloride, magnesium, and phosphorus. This reduction led to a savings of $1.7 million in billable charges to health care payers and $75,000 of direct costs to the medical center. In addition, there were no significant negative changes in the quality of care delivered, as recorded in a number of metrics, showing that this cost savings did not negatively impact patient care.
Engaging physician trainees in quality improvement can be successfully achieved by financial incentives. Through the resident-led quality improvement incentive program, neurosurgical trainees successfully reduced unnecessary laboratory tests, resulting in significant cost savings to both the medical center and the health care system. Similar programs that engage trainees could improve the value of care being provided at other academic medical centers.
Jacob S. Young, Andrew K. Chan, Jennifer A. Viner, Sujatha Sankaran, Alvin Y. Chan, Sarah Imershein, Aldea Meary-Miller, Philip V. Theodosopoulos, Line Jacques, Manish K. Aghi, Edward F. Chang, Shawn L. Hervey-Jumper, Tracy Ward, Liz Gibson, Mariann M. Ward, Peter Sanftner, Stacy Wong, Dominic Amara, Stephen T. Magill, Joseph A. Osorio, Brinda Venkatesh, Ralph Gonzales, Catherine Lau, Christy Boscardin, Michael Wang, Kim Berry, Laurie McCullagh, Mary Reid, Kayla Reels, Sara Nedkov, Mitchel S. Berger, and Michael W. McDermott
High-value medical care is described as care that leads to excellent patient outcomes, high patient satisfaction, and efficient costs. Neurosurgical care in particular can be expensive for the hospital, as substantial costs are accrued during the operation and throughout the postoperative stay. The authors developed a “Safe Transitions Pathway” (STP) model in which select patients went to the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) and then the neuro-transitional care unit (NTCU) rather than being directly admitted to the neurosciences intensive care unit (ICU) following a craniotomy. They sought to evaluate the clinical and financial outcomes as well as the impact on the patient experience for patients who participated in the STP and bypassed the ICU level of care.
Patients were enrolled during the 2018 fiscal year (FY18; July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018). The electronic medical record was reviewed for clinical information and the hospital cost accounting record was reviewed for financial information. Nurses and patients were given a satisfaction survey to assess their respective impressions of the hospital stay and of the recovery pathway.
No patients who proceeded to the NTCU postoperatively were upgraded to the ICU level of care postoperatively. There were no deaths in the STP group, and no patients required a return to the operating room during their hospitalization (95% CI 0%–3.9%). There was a trend toward fewer 30-day readmissions in the STP patients than in the standard pathway patients (1.2% [95% CI 0.0%–6.8%] vs 5.1% [95% CI 2.5%–9.1%], p = 0.058). The mean number of ICU days saved per case was 1.20. The average postprocedure length of stay was reduced by 0.25 days for STP patients. Actual FY18 direct cost savings from 94 patients who went through the STP was $422,128.
Length of stay, direct cost per case, and ICU days were significantly less after the adoption of the STP, and ICU bed utilization was freed for acute admissions and transfers. There were no substantial complications or adverse patient outcomes in the STP group.