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Linda W. Xu, Amy Li, Christian Swinney, Maya Babu, Anand Veeravagu, Stacey Quintero Wolfe, Brian V. Nahed and John K. Ratliff

OBJECTIVE

Recently, 2 surgeon rating websites (Consumers' Checkbook and ProPublica) were published to allow the public to compare surgeons through identifying surgeon volume and complication rates. Among neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons, only cervical and lumbar spine, hip, and knee procedures were included in this assessment.

METHODS

The authors examined the methodology of each website to assess potential sources of inaccuracy. Each online tool was queried for reports on neurosurgeons specializing in spine surgery and orthopedic surgeons specializing in spine, hip, or knee surgery. Surgeons were chosen from top-ranked hospitals in the US, as recorded by a national consumer publication ranking system, within the fields of neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery. The results were compared for accuracy and surgeon representation, and the results of the 2 websites were also compared.

RESULTS

The methodology of each site was found to have opportunities for bias and limited risk adjustment. The end points assessed by each site were actually not complications, but proxies of complication occurrence. A search of 510 surgeons (401 orthopedic surgeons [79%] and 109 neurosurgeons [21%]) showed that only 28% and 56% of surgeons had data represented on Consumers' Checkbook and ProPublica, respectively. There was a significantly higher chance of finding surgeon data on ProPublica (p < 0.001). Of the surgeons from top-ranked programs with data available, 17% were quoted to have high complication rates, 13% with lower volume than other surgeons, and 79% had a 3-star out of 5-star rating. There was no significant correlation found between the number of stars a surgeon received on Consumers' Checkbook and his or her adjusted complication rate on ProPublica.

CONCLUSIONS

Both the Consumers' Checkbook and ProPublica websites have significant methodological issues. Neither site assessed complication occurrence, but rather readmissions or prolonged length of stay. Risk adjustment was limited or nonexistent. A substantial number of neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons from top-ranked hospitals have no ratings on either site, or have data that suggests they are low-volume surgeons or have higher complication rates. Consumers' Checkbook and ProPublica produced different results with little correlation between the 2 websites in how surgeons were graded. Given the significant methodological issues, incomplete data, and lack of appropriate risk stratification of patients, the featured websites may provide erroneous information to the public.

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Silvia D. Vaca, Linda W. Xu, Juliet Nalwanga, Christine Muhumuza, Benjamin J. Lerman, Joel Kiryabwire, Hussein Ssenyonjo, John Mukasa, Michael Muhumuza, Michael Haglund and Gerald Grant

OBJECTIVE

There is a paucity of literature on long-term neurosurgical outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa, and as neurosurgical services expand in each country, it would be beneficial to understand the impact of these services on the national population. Since follow-up can be inconsistent, the authors here used the novel method of telephone surveys to conduct the first-ever long-term follow-up in Uganda to elucidate the outcomes of pediatric head trauma patients treated at the national referral hospital.

METHODS

A prospectively maintained database of pediatric head trauma patients treated at the Mulago National Referral Hospital (MNRH) between 2014 and 2015 included 232 patients eligible for this study. Quality of life was assessed through phone surveys conducted by a Ugandan collaborator on site who performed all interviews with the guardian listed at the time of hospital admission, using each participant’s language.

RESULTS

Phone interviews were completed for 142 patients, resulting in a 61% response rate. Including inpatient deaths, the mortality rate was 10%. Almost half of the patients (48%) did not return to MNRH postdischarge, and 37% received no subsequent healthcare at all. Including inpatient deaths, the average Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale–Pediatric Revision (GOSE-Peds) scores for patients with severe, moderate, and mild head trauma were 5.68 ± 2.85, 4.79 ± 2.38, and 3.12 ± 2.08, respectively, at 1 year postinjury and 5.56 ± 2.58, 4.00 ± 2.45, and 2.21 ± 1.49, respectively, at 2 years postinjury.

CONCLUSIONS

This first-ever long-term follow-up of pediatric head trauma patients in Uganda confirmed the feasibility of a novel phone follow-up method for patients throughout Uganda. The results at 2 years showed poor long-term recovery in patients who suffered moderate or severe head trauma but good recovery in patients who suffered mild head trauma. However, there was greater overall disability than that in comparable head trauma studies in the US. The current study lays the groundwork for phone follow-up in low- and middle-income countries as a viable way to obtain outcome data.

Free access

Linda W. Xu, Silvia D. Vaca, Joy Q. He, Juliet Nalwanga, Christine Muhumuza, Joel Kiryabwire, Hussein Ssenyonjo, John Mukasa, Michael Muhumuza and Gerald Grant

OBJECTIVE

Children with neural tube defects (NTDs) require timely surgical intervention coupled with long-term management by multiple highly trained specialty healthcare teams. In resource-limited settings, outcomes are greatly affected by the lack of coordinated care. The purpose of this study was to characterize outcomes of spina bifida patients treated at Mulago National Referral Hospital (MNRH) through follow-up phone surveys.

METHODS

All children presenting to MNRH with NTDs between January 1, 2014, and August 31, 2015, were eligible for this study. For those with a documented telephone number, follow-up phone surveys were conducted with the children’s caregivers to assess mortality, morbidity, follow-up healthcare, and access to medical resources.

RESULTS

Of the 201 patients, the vast majority (n = 185, 92%) were diagnosed with myelomeningocele. The median age at presentation was 6 days, the median length of stay was 20 days, and the median time to surgery was 10 days. Half of the patients had documented surgeries, with 5% receiving multiple procedures (n = 102, 51%): 80 defect closures (40%), 32 ventriculoperitoneal shunts (15%), and 1 endoscopic third ventriculostomy (0.5%). Phone surveys were completed for 53 patients with a median time to follow-up of 1.5 years. There were no statistically significant differences in demographics between the surveyed and nonrespondent groups. The 1-year mortality rate was 34% (n = 18). At the time of survey, 91% of the survivors (n = 30) have received healthcare since their initial discharge from MNRH, with 67% (n = 22) returning to MNRH. Hydrocephalus was diagnosed in 29 patients (88%). Caregivers reported physical deficits in 39% of patients (n = 13), clubfoot in 18% (n = 6), and bowel or bladder incontinence in 12% (n = 4). The surgical complication rate was 2.5%. Glasgow Outcome Scale–Extended pediatric revision scores were correlated with upper good recovery in 58% (n = 19) of patients, lower good recovery in 30% (n = 10), and moderate disability in 12% of patients (n = 4). Only 5 patients (15%) reported access to home health resources postdischarge.

CONCLUSIONS

This study is the first to characterize the outcomes of children with NTDs that were treated at Uganda’s national referral hospital. There is a great need for improved access to and coordination of care in antenatal, perioperative, and long-term settings to improve morbidity and mortality.

Restricted access

Silvia D. Vaca, Linda W. Xu, Juliet Nalwanga, Christine Muhumuza, Benjamin J. Lerman, Joel Kiryabwire, Hussein Ssenyonjo, John Mukasa, Michael Muhumuza, Michael Haglund and Gerald Grant

OBJECTIVE

There is a paucity of literature on long-term neurosurgical outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa, and as neurosurgical services expand in each country, it would be beneficial to understand the impact of these services on the national population. Since follow-up can be inconsistent, the authors here used the novel method of telephone surveys to conduct the first-ever long-term follow-up in Uganda to elucidate the outcomes of pediatric head trauma patients treated at the national referral hospital.

METHODS

A prospectively maintained database of pediatric head trauma patients treated at the Mulago National Referral Hospital (MNRH) between 2014 and 2015 included 232 patients eligible for this study. Quality of life was assessed through phone surveys conducted by a Ugandan collaborator on site who performed all interviews with the guardian listed at the time of hospital admission, using each participant’s language.

RESULTS

Phone interviews were completed for 142 patients, resulting in a 61% response rate. Including inpatient deaths, the mortality rate was 10%. Almost half of the patients (48%) did not return to MNRH postdischarge, and 37% received no subsequent healthcare at all. Including inpatient deaths, the average Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale–Pediatric Revision (GOSE-Peds) scores for patients with severe, moderate, and mild head trauma were 5.68 ± 2.85, 4.79 ± 2.38, and 3.12 ± 2.08, respectively, at 1 year postinjury and 5.56 ± 2.58, 4.00 ± 2.45, and 2.21 ± 1.49, respectively, at 2 years postinjury.

CONCLUSIONS

This first-ever long-term follow-up of pediatric head trauma patients in Uganda confirmed the feasibility of a novel phone follow-up method for patients throughout Uganda. The results at 2 years showed poor long-term recovery in patients who suffered moderate or severe head trauma but good recovery in patients who suffered mild head trauma. However, there was greater overall disability than that in comparable head trauma studies in the US. The current study lays the groundwork for phone follow-up in low- and middle-income countries as a viable way to obtain outcome data.