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Toward more accurate documentation in neurosurgical care

Rohaid Ali, Sohail Syed, Rahul A. Sastry, Hael Abdulrazeq, Belinda Shao, G. Dean Roye, Curtis E. Doberstein, Adetokunbo Oyelese, Tianyi Niu, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Albert Telfeian


Accurate clinical documentation is foundational to any quality improvement endeavor as it is ultimately the medical record that is measured in assessing change. Literature on high-yield interventions to improve the accuracy and completeness of clinical documentation by neurosurgical providers is limited. Therefore, the authors sought to share a single-institution experience of a two-part intervention to enhance clinical documentation by a neurosurgery inpatient service.


At an urban, level I trauma, academic teaching hospital, a two-part intervention was implemented to enhance the accuracy of clinical documentation of neurosurgery inpatients by residents and advanced practice providers (APPs). Residents and APPs were instructed on the most common neurosurgical complications or comorbidities (CCs) and major complications or comorbidities (MCCs), as defined by Medicare. Additionally, a “system-based” progress note template was changed to a “problem-based” progress note template. Prepost analysis was performed to compare the CC/MCC capture rates for the 12 months prior to the intervention with those for the 3 months after the intervention.


The CC/MCC capture rate for the neurosurgery service line rose from 62% in the 12 months preintervention to 74% in the 3 months after intervention, representing a significant change (p = 0.00002).


Existing clinical documentation habits by neurosurgical residents and APPs may fail to capture the extent of neurosurgical inpatients with CC/MCCs. An intervention that focuses on the most common CC/MCCs and utilizes a problem-based progress note template may lead to more accurate appraisals of neurosurgical patient acuity.