Intrathecal baclofen pumps are generally placed in children for the treatment of spasticity and dystonia. Use of implants in this pediatric population with comorbidities is reported to have a high risk of complications and infections. With the aim of reducing baclofen pump–related infections, a quality improvement project was instituted at the authors’ institution.
A workflow paradigm unique to baclofen pump implantation aimed at decreasing implant-related infections was implemented. All baclofen pump operations performed at the authors’ institution between August 2012 and June 2016 were reviewed. An infection prevention protocol was created and implemented in August 2014 based on a literature review and the consensus opinion of the pediatric neurosurgeons in the group. Compliance with the prevention bundle was tracked. Case outcomes before and after implementation of the protocol with a minimum of 3 months of follow-up were retrospectively reviewed. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to assess the association of the steps in the prevention bundle with infection and complication outcomes.
A total of 128 baclofen pump surgeries were performed (64 preprotocol and 64 postprotocol). The patient age range was 3 to 27 years. The overall compliance rate with the infection prevention bundle was 82%. The pre- and postimplementation infection rates were 12.5% and 6.3%, respectively (p = 0.225). The total pre- and postimplementation complication rates were 23.4% and 9.4%, respectively (p = 0.032). The absolute and relative risk reductions for infections were 6.3% (95% CI 3.8%–16.3%) and 50%, respectively; for complications, the absolute and relative risk reductions were 14.1% (95% CI 1.5%–26.7%) and 60%, respectively.
The total complication rate following intrathecal baclofen pump surgery was significantly lower after implementation of the quality improvement protocol. This study is an example of using checklist standardization to diminish special cause variability.