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Rasheedat T. Zakare-Fagbamila, Christine Park, Wes Dickson, Tracy Z. Cheng, and Oren N. Gottfried

OBJECTIVE

Most clinics collect routine data on performance metrics on physicians for outpatient visits. However, the relationship of these metrics with patient experience is unclear. The goal of this study was to investigate the relationships between the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Clinician and Group Survey (CG-CAHPS), the standard patient experience survey, and clinic performance metrics to understand the determinants of patient satisfaction and identify targets for improving patient experience.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective single-institution cohort review of spine surgeon metrics over 15 months including demographics, waiting-room times, in-room times, lead times, timely note closure, timely MyChart responses, and monthly patient volume. Kruskal-Wallis tests and mixed-model regression were used to determine the predictors of 3 domains of patient satisfaction—Global, Access, and Communication.

RESULTS

Over 15 months, 22 surgeons conducted 27,090 visits. The average clinic visit total time was 85.17 ± 25.75 minutes. Increased wait times were associated with poor Global (p = 0.008), Access (p < 0.001), and Communication scores (p = 0.003) in univariate analysis. Every 10-minute increase in waiting time was associated with a 3%, 9.8%, and 2.4% decrease in Global, Access, and Communication scores, respectively. Increased in-room time was also an independent predictor of poor Access scores (p < 0.001). In multivariate analysis, increased wait times were negative predictors of Global (p = 0.005), Access (p < 0.001), and Communication (p = 0.002) scores.

CONCLUSIONS

Excessive waiting-room time significantly impacts unexpected dimensions of the patient experience and impacts communication with patients. Understanding the complex relationship between the factors that inform the patient experience will help target effective interventions to improve clinic efficiency and patient satisfaction.

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Christine Park, Rasheedat T. Zakare-Fagbamila, Wes Dickson, Alessandra N. Garcia, and Oren N. Gottfried

OBJECTIVE

The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is a survey that assesses patient satisfaction, which is an important measure of the quality of hospital care and ultimately the overall hospital rating (OHR). However, the survey covers several elements of patient satisfaction beyond the patient-surgeon interaction. In this study, authors investigated which admission and experience factors had the highest impact on the OHR.

METHODS

This was a retrospective cohort analysis of HCAHPS surveys from patients who, in the period between August 1, 2016, and January 31, 2018, had been discharged from the neurosurgical or orthopedic service at three hospitals serving a single metropolitan area. The top-box score was defined as the highest rating obtainable for each survey question. Baseline admission attributes were obtained, and multivariate logistic regression was used to determine predictors of the top-box OHR.

RESULTS

After application of the inclusion and exclusion criteria, 1470 patients remained in the analysis. Categories on the HCAHPS included OHR, communication, education, environment, pain management, and responsiveness. After excluding identifying questions from the survey and adjusting for subspecialty and hospital, 7 of 17 HCAHPS survey items were significant predictors of OHR. Only 2 of these were related to the surgeon: 1) discharge, “Did you get information in writing about what symptoms or health problems to look out for after you left the hospital?” (OR 5.93, 95% CI 2.52–13.94); and 2) doctor, “Did doctors explain things in a way you could understand?” (OR 2.78, 95% CI 1.73–4.46). The top three strongest correlating items were 1) discharge; 2) nursing, “Did nurses treat you with courtesy and respect?” (OR 3.86, 95% CI 2.28–6.52); and 3) hospital environment, “Were your room and bathroom kept clean?” (OR 2.86, 95% CI 1.96–4.17).

CONCLUSIONS

The study findings demonstrated that there are several nonmodifiable factors (i.e., specialty, experience) and items that are not under the direct purview of the neurosurgeon (e.g., nursing communication, hospital environment) that are significant influences on overall inpatient satisfaction on the HCAHPS survey. Furthermore, components of the survey that ultimately influence the OHR vary across different hospitals. Hence, HCAHPS survey results should be broadly interpreted as a way to make health systems more aware of the overall hospital factors that can improve quality of care and patient experience.

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Christine Park, Alessandra N. Garcia, Chad Cook, Christopher I. Shaffrey, and Oren N. Gottfried

OBJECTIVE

Obese body habitus is a challenging issue to address in lumbar spine surgery. There is a lack of consensus on the long-term influence of BMI on patient-reported outcomes and satisfaction. This study aimed to examine the differences in patient-reported outcomes over the course of 12 and 24 months among BMI classifications of patients who underwent lumbar surgery.

METHODS

A search was performed using the Quality Outcomes Database (QOD) Spine Registry from 2012 to 2018 to identify patients who underwent lumbar surgery and had either a 12- or 24-month follow-up. Patients were categorized based on their BMI as normal weight (≤ 25 kg/m2), overweight (25–30 kg/m2), obese (30–40 kg/m2), and morbidly obese (> 40 kg/m2). Outcomes included the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and the visual analog scale (VAS) for back pain (BP) and leg pain (LP), and patient satisfaction was measured at 12 and 24 months postoperatively.

RESULTS

A total of 31,765 patients were included. At both the 12- and 24-month follow-ups, those who were obese and morbidly obese had worse ODI, VAS-BP, and VAS-LP scores (all p < 0.01) and more frequently rated their satisfaction as “I am the same or worse than before treatment” (all p < 0.01) compared with those who were normal weight. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis revealed that the BMI cutoffs for predicting worsening disability and surgery dissatisfaction were 30.1 kg/m2 and 29.9 kg/m2 for the 12- and 24-month follow-ups, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Higher BMI was associated with poorer patient-reported outcomes and satisfaction at both the 12- and 24-month follow-ups. BMI of 30 kg/m2 is the cutoff for predicting worse patient outcomes after lumbar surgery.

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Deric M. Park

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Jean Régis, Romain Carron, Michael C. Park, Outouma Soumare, Christine Delsanti, Jean Marc Thomassin, and Pierre-Hugues Roche

Object

The roles of the wait-and-see strategy and proactive Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) in the treatment paradigm for small intracanalicular vestibular schwannomas (VSs) is still a matter of debate, especially when patients present with functional hearing. The authors compare these 2 methods.

Methods

Forty-seven patients (22 men and 25 women) harboring an intracanalicular VS were followed prospectively. The mean age of the patients at the time of inclusion was 54.4 years (range 20–71 years). The mean follow-up period was 43.8 ± 40 months (range 9–222 months). Failure was defined as significant tumor growth and/or hearing deterioration that required microsurgical or radiosurgical treatment. This population was compared with a control group of 34 patients harboring a unilateral intracanalicular VS who were consecutively treated by GKS and had functional hearing at the time of radiosurgery.

Results

Of the 47 patients in the wait-and-see group, treatment failure (tumor growth requiring treatment) was observed in 35 patients (74%), although conservative treatment is still ongoing for 12 patients. Treatment failure in the control (GKS) group occurred in only 1 (3%) of 34 patients. In the wait-and-see group, there was no change in tumor size in 10 patients (21%), tumor growth in 36 patients (77%), and a mild decrease in tumor size in 1 patient (2%). Forty patients in the wait-and-see group were available for a hearing level study, which demonstrated no change in Gardner-Robertson hearing class for 24 patients (60%). Fifteen patients (38%) experienced more than 10 db of hearing loss and 2 of them became deaf. At 3, 4, and 5 years, the useful hearing preservation rates were 75%, 52%, and 41% in the wait-and-see group and 77%, 70%, and 64% in the control group, respectively. Thus, the chances of maintaining functional hearing and avoiding further intervention were much higher in cases treated by GKS (79% and 60% at 2 and 5 years, respectively) than in cases managed by the wait-and-see strategy (43% and 14% at 2 and 5 years, respectively).

Conclusions

These data indicate that the wait-and-see policy exposes the patient to elevated risks of tumor growth and degradation of hearing. Both events may occur independently in the mid-term period. This information must be presented to the patient. A careful sequential follow-up may be adopted when the wait-and-see strategy is chosen, but proactive GKS is recommended when hearing is still useful at the time of diagnosis. This recommendation may be a main paradigm shift in the practice of treating intracanalicular VSs.

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Salah G. Aoun, Tarek Y. El Ahmadieh, Najib E. El Tecle, Marc R. Daou, Joseph G. Adel, Christine S. Park, H. Hunt Batjer, and Bernard R. Bendok

OBJECT

Microsurgical skills remain an integral component of neurosurgical education. There is a need for an objective scale to assess microsurgical skills. The objective of this study was to assess the face and construct validity of a benchtraining microanastomosis module and an objective assessment scale, i.e., the Northwestern Objective Microanastomosis Assessment Tool (NOMAT).

METHODS

Medical students, neurosurgical residents, and postdoctoral research fellows at Northwestern University were enrolled in the study. Trainees were divided into 3 groups based on microsurgical experience: 1) experienced, 2) exposed, and 3) novices. Each trainee completed two end-to-end microanastomoses using a 1-mm and a 3-mm synthetic vessel. Two cameras were installed to capture procedural footage. One neurosurgeon blindly graded the performance of trainees using both objective and subjective methods to assess construct validity. Two neurosurgeons reviewed the contents of the simulation module to assess face validity.

RESULTS

Twenty-one trainees participated in the study, including 6 experienced, 6 exposed, and 9 novices. The mean NOMAT score for experienced trainees on the 1-mm module was 47.3/70 compared with 26.0/70 and 25.8/70 for exposed and novice trainees, respectively (p = 0.02). Using subjective grading, experienced trainees performed significantly better on the 1-mm module (64.2/100) compared with exposed or novice trainees (23.3/100 and 25.0/100, respectively; p = 0.02). No statistical difference between groups was noted for the 3-mm module with both NOMAT and subjective grading. Experienced trainees took less time to perform both tasks compared with the others.

CONCLUSIONS

Face and construct validities of the microanastomosis module were established. The scale and the microanastomosis module could help assess the microsurgical skills of neurosurgical trainees and serve as a basis for the creation of a microsurgical curriculum.

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Patient outcomes and tumor control in single-fraction versus hypofractionated stereotactic body radiation therapy for spinal metastases

Presented at the 2020 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Christine Park, Elizabeth P. Howell, Vikram A. Mehta, Luis Ramirez, Meghan J. Price, Scott R. Floyd, John P. Kirkpatrick, Jordan Torok, Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Isaac O. Karikari, and C. Rory Goodwin

OBJECTIVE

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) offers efficient, noninvasive treatment of spinal neoplasms. Single-fraction (SF) high-dose SBRT has a relatively narrow therapeutic window, while hypofractionated delivery of SBRT may have an improved safety profile with similar efficacy. Because the optimal approach of delivery is unknown, the authors examined whether hypofractionated SBRT improves pain and/or functional outcomes and results in better tumor control compared with SF-SBRT.

METHODS

This is a single-institution retrospective study of adult patients with spinal metastases treated with SF- or three-fraction (3F) SBRT from 2008 to 2019. Demographics and baseline characteristics, radiographic data, and posttreatment outcomes at a minimum follow-up of 3 months are reported.

RESULTS

Of the 156 patients included in the study, 70 (44.9%) underwent SF-SBRT (median total dose 1700 cGy) and 86 (55.1%) underwent 3F-SBRT (median total dose 2100 cGy). At baseline, a higher proportion of patients in the 3F-SBRT group had a worse baseline profile, including severity of pain (p < 0.05), average use of pain medication (p < 0.001), and functional scores (p < 0.05) compared with the SF-SBRT cohort. At the 3-month follow-up, the 3F-SBRT cohort experienced a greater frequency of improvement in pain compared with the SF-SBRT group (p < 0.05). Furthermore, patients treated with 3F-SBRT demonstrated a higher frequency of improved Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) scores (p < 0.05) compared with those treated with SF-SBRT, with no significant difference in the frequency of improvement in modified Rankin Scale scores. Local tumor control did not differ significantly between the two cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients who received spinal 3F-SBRT more frequently achieved significant pain relief and an increased frequency of improvement in KPS compared with those treated with SF-SBRT. Local tumor control was similar in the two groups. Future work is needed to establish the relationship between fractionation schedule and clinical outcomes.

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Jennifer M. Strahle, Rukayat Taiwo, Christine Averill, James Torner, Jordan I. Gewirtz, Chevis N. Shannon, Christopher M. Bonfield, Gerald F. Tuite, Tammy Bethel-Anderson, Richard C. E. Anderson, Michael P. Kelly, Joshua S. Shimony, Ralph G. Dacey Jr., Matthew D. Smyth, Tae Sung Park, David D. Limbrick Jr., and for the Park-Reeves Syringomyelia Research Consortium

OBJECTIVE

In patients with Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) and a syrinx who also have scoliosis, clinical and radiological predictors of curve regression after posterior fossa decompression are not well known. Prior reports indicate that age younger than 10 years and a curve magnitude < 35° are favorable predictors of curve regression following surgery. The aim of this study was to determine baseline radiological factors, including craniocervical junction alignment, that might predict curve stability or improvement after posterior fossa decompression.

METHODS

A large multicenter retrospective and prospective registry of pediatric patients with CM-I (tonsils ≥ 5 mm below the foramen magnum) and a syrinx (≥ 3 mm in width) was reviewed for clinical and radiological characteristics of CM-I, syrinx, and scoliosis (coronal curve ≥ 10°) in patients who underwent posterior fossa decompression and who also had follow-up imaging.

RESULTS

Of 825 patients with CM-I and a syrinx, 251 (30.4%) were noted to have scoliosis present at the time of diagnosis. Forty-one (16.3%) of these patients underwent posterior fossa decompression and had follow-up imaging to assess for scoliosis. Twenty-three patients (56%) were female, the mean age at time of CM-I decompression was 10.0 years, and the mean follow-up duration was 1.3 years. Nine patients (22%) had stable curves, 16 (39%) showed improvement (> 5°), and 16 (39%) displayed curve progression (> 5°) during the follow-up period. Younger age at the time of decompression was associated with improvement in curve magnitude; for those with curves of ≤ 35°, 17% of patients younger than 10 years of age had curve progression compared with 64% of those 10 years of age or older (p = 0.008). There was no difference by age for those with curves > 35°. Tonsil position, baseline syrinx dimensions, and change in syrinx size were not associated with the change in curve magnitude. There was no difference in progression after surgery in patients who were also treated with a brace compared to those who were not treated with a brace for scoliosis.

CONCLUSIONS

In this cohort of patients with CM-I, a syrinx, and scoliosis, younger age at the time of decompression was associated with improvement in curve magnitude following surgery, especially in patients younger than 10 years of age with curves of ≤ 35°. Baseline tonsil position, syrinx dimensions, frontooccipital horn ratio, and craniocervical junction morphology were not associated with changes in curve magnitude after surgery.

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Jennifer M. Strahle, Rukayat Taiwo, Christine Averill, James Torner, Chevis N. Shannon, Christopher M. Bonfield, Gerald F. Tuite, Tammy Bethel-Anderson, Jerrel Rutlin, Douglas L. Brockmeyer, John C. Wellons III, Jeffrey R. Leonard, Francesco T. Mangano, James M. Johnston, Manish N. Shah, Bermans J. Iskandar, Elizabeth C. Tyler-Kabara, David J. Daniels, Eric M. Jackson, Gerald A. Grant, Daniel E. Couture, P. David Adelson, Tord D. Alden, Philipp R. Aldana, Richard C. E. Anderson, Nathan R. Selden, Lissa C. Baird, Karin Bierbrauer, Joshua J. Chern, William E. Whitehead, Richard G. Ellenbogen, Herbert E. Fuchs, Daniel J. Guillaume, Todd C. Hankinson, Mark R. Iantosca, W. Jerry Oakes, Robert F. Keating, Nickalus R. Khan, Michael S. Muhlbauer, J. Gordon McComb, Arnold H. Menezes, John Ragheb, Jodi L. Smith, Cormac O. Maher, Stephanie Greene, Michael Kelly, Brent R. O’Neill, Mark D. Krieger, Mandeep Tamber, Susan R. Durham, Greg Olavarria, Scellig S. D. Stone, Bruce A. Kaufman, Gregory G. Heuer, David F. Bauer, Gregory Albert, Jeffrey P. Greenfield, Scott D. Wait, Mark D. Van Poppel, Ramin Eskandari, Timothy Mapstone, Joshua S. Shimony, Ralph G. Dacey Jr., Matthew D. Smyth, Tae Sung Park, and David D. Limbrick Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Scoliosis is frequently a presenting sign of Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) with syrinx. The authors’ goal was to define scoliosis in this population and describe how radiological characteristics of CM-I and syrinx relate to the presence and severity of scoliosis.

METHODS

A large multicenter retrospective and prospective registry of pediatric patients with CM-I (tonsils ≥ 5 mm below the foramen magnum) and syrinx (≥ 3 mm in axial width) was reviewed for clinical and radiological characteristics of CM-I, syrinx, and scoliosis (coronal curve ≥ 10°).

RESULTS

Based on available imaging of patients with CM-I and syrinx, 260 of 825 patients (31%) had a clear diagnosis of scoliosis based on radiographs or coronal MRI. Forty-nine patients (5.9%) did not have scoliosis, and in 516 (63%) patients, a clear determination of the presence or absence of scoliosis could not be made. Comparison of patients with and those without a definite scoliosis diagnosis indicated that scoliosis was associated with wider syrinxes (8.7 vs 6.3 mm, OR 1.25, p < 0.001), longer syrinxes (10.3 vs 6.2 levels, OR 1.18, p < 0.001), syrinxes with their rostral extent located in the cervical spine (94% vs 80%, OR 3.91, p = 0.001), and holocord syrinxes (50% vs 16%, OR 5.61, p < 0.001). Multivariable regression analysis revealed syrinx length and the presence of holocord syrinx to be independent predictors of scoliosis in this patient cohort. Scoliosis was not associated with sex, age at CM-I diagnosis, tonsil position, pB–C2 distance (measured perpendicular distance from the ventral dura to a line drawn from the basion to the posterior-inferior aspect of C2), clivoaxial angle, or frontal-occipital horn ratio. Average curve magnitude was 29.9°, and 37.7% of patients had a left thoracic curve. Older age at CM-I or syrinx diagnosis (p < 0.0001) was associated with greater curve magnitude whereas there was no association between syrinx dimensions and curve magnitude.

CONCLUSIONS

Syrinx characteristics, but not tonsil position, were related to the presence of scoliosis in patients with CM-I, and there was an independent association of syrinx length and holocord syrinx with scoliosis. Further study is needed to evaluate the nature of the relationship between syrinx and scoliosis in patients with CM-I.