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  • Author or Editor: Matthew A. Hazzard x
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Neal B. Patel, Matthew A. Hazzard, Laurie L. Ackerman and Eric M. Horn

Unstable pediatric cervical spine injuries present significant challenges in terms of fixation. Given the smaller cervical vertebral bodies in the preschool-aged population, commercially available pediatric cervical fixation instrumentation may be unsuitable because of the inappropriately large size of the screws and plates. The authors describe a 2-year-old girl who sustained an unstable C6–7 distraction injury during a motor vehicle accident. Because of the small size of her vertebral bodies, standard cervical spine instrumentation was not feasible, and posterior wiring alone was believed to be insufficient because of the complete distraction of all 3 spinal columns. The patient was taken to the operating room where craniofacial plates with an inherent locking mechanism were used to circumferentially stabilize the cervical spine. Follow-up examination 6 months postoperatively demonstrated stable cervical spine alignment and fusion with no evidence of the failure of either the anterior or posterior hardware. The use of craniofacial miniplates with an intrinsic locking mechanism represents a superior alternative for both anterior and posterior cervical fixations when spinal instrumentation is needed in the pediatric age group.

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Ranjith Babu, Steven Thomas, Matthew A. Hazzard, Yuliya V. Lokhnygina, Allan H. Friedman, Oren N. Gottfried, Robert E. Isaacs, Maxwell Boakye, Chirag G. Patil, Carlos A. Bagley, Michael M. Haglund and Shivanand P. Lad

Object

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) implemented resident duty-hour restrictions on July 1, 2003, in concern for patient and resident safety. Whereas studies have shown that duty-hour restrictions have increased resident quality of life, there have been mixed results with respect to patient outcomes. In this study, the authors have evaluated the effect of duty-hour restrictions on morbidity, mortality, length of stay (LOS), and charges in patients who underwent spine surgery.

Methods

The Nationwide Inpatient Sample was used to evaluate the effect of duty-hour restrictions on complications, mortality, LOS, and charges by comparing the prereform (2000–2002) and postreform (2005–2008) periods. Outcomes were compared between nonteaching and teaching hospitals using a difference-in-differences (DID) method.

Results

A total of 693,058 patients were included in the study. The overall complication rate was 8.6%, with patients in the postreform era having a significantly higher rate than those in the pre–duty-hour restriction era (8.7% vs 8.4%, p < 0.0001). Examination of hospital teaching status revealed complication rates to decrease in nonteaching hospitals (8.2% vs 7.6%, p < 0.0001) while increasing in teaching institutions (8.6% vs 9.6%, p < 0.0001) in the duty-hour reform era. The DID analysis to compare the magnitude in change between teaching and nonteaching institutions revealed that teaching institutions to had a significantly greater increase in complications during the postreform era (p = 0.0002). The overall mortality rate was 0.37%, with no significant difference between the pre– and post–duty-hour eras (0.39% vs 0.36%, p = 0.12). However, the mortality rate significantly decreased in nonteaching hospitals in the postreform era (0.30% vs 0.23%, p = 0.0008), while remaining the same in teaching institutions (0.46% vs 0.46%, p = 0.75). The DID analysis to compare the changes in mortality between groups revealed that the difference between the effects approached significance (p = 0.069). The mean LOS for all patients was 4.2 days, with hospital stay decreasing in nonteaching hospitals (3.7 vs 3.5 days, p < 0.0001) while significantly increasing in teaching institutions (4.7 vs 4.8 days, p < 0.0001). The DID analysis did not demonstrate the magnitude of change for each group to differ significantly (p = 0.26). Total patient charges were seen to rise significantly in the post–duty-hour reform era, increasing from $40,000 in the prereform era to $69,000 in the postreform era. The DID analysis did not reveal a significant difference between the changes in charges between teaching and nonteaching hospitals (p = 0.55).

Conclusions

The implementation of duty-hour restrictions was associated with an increased risk of postoperative complications for patients undergoing spine surgery. Therefore, contrary to its intended purpose, duty-hour reform may have resulted in worse patient outcomes. Additional studies are needed to evaluate strategies to mitigate these effects and assist in the development of future health care policy.

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Ranjith Babu, Steven Thomas, Matthew A. Hazzard, Allan H. Friedman, John H. Sampson, Cory Adamson, Ali R. Zomorodi, Michael M. Haglund, Chirag G. Patil, Maxwell Boakye and Shivanand P. Lad

Object

On July 1, 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) implemented duty-hour restrictions for resident physicians due to concerns for patient and resident safety. Though duty-hour restrictions have increased resident quality of life, studies have shown mixed results with respect to patient outcomes. In this study, the authors have evaluated the effect of duty-hour restrictions on morbidity, mortality, length of stay, and charges in patients who underwent brain tumor and cerebrovascular procedures.

Methods

The Nationwide Inpatient Sample was used to evaluate the effect of duty-hour restrictions on complications, mortality, length of stay, and charges by comparing the pre-reform (2000–2002) and post-reform (2005–2008) periods. Outcomes were compared between nonteaching and teaching hospitals using a difference-in-differences (DID) method.

Results

A total of 90,648 patients were included in the analysis. The overall complication rate was 11.7%, with the rates not significantly differing between the pre– and post–duty hour eras (p = 0.26). Examination of hospital teaching status revealed that complication rates decreased in nonteaching hospitals (12.1% vs 10.4%, p = 0.0004) and remained stable in teaching institutions (11.8% vs 11.9%, p = 0.73) in the post-reform era. Multivariate analysis demonstrated a significantly higher complication risk in teaching institutions (OR 1.33 [95% CI 1.11–1.59], p = 0.0022), with no significant change in nonteaching hospitals (OR 1.11 [95% CI 0.91–1.37], p = 0.31). A DID analysis to compare the magnitude in change between teaching and nonteaching institutions revealed that teaching hospitals had a significantly greater increase in complications during the post-reform era than nonteaching hospitals (p = 0.040). The overall mortality rate was 3.0%, with a significant decrease occurring in the post-reform era in both nonteaching (5.0% vs 3.2%, p < 0.0001) and teaching (3.2% vs 2.3%, p < 0.0001) hospitals. DID analysis to compare the changes in mortality between groups did not reveal a significant difference (p = 0.40). The mean length of stay for all patients was 8.7 days, with hospital stay decreasing from 9.2 days to 8.3 days in the post-reform era (p < 0.0001). The DID analysis revealed a greater length of stay decrease in nonteaching hospitals than teaching institutions, which approached significance (p = 0.055). Patient charges significantly increased in the post-reform era for all patients, increasing from $70,900 to $96,100 (p < 0.0001). The DID analysis did not reveal a significant difference between the changes in charges between teaching and nonteaching hospitals (p = 0.17).

Conclusions

The implementation of duty-hour restrictions correlated with an increased risk of postoperative complications for patients undergoing brain tumor and cerebrovascular neurosurgical procedures. Duty-hour reform may therefore be associated with worse patient outcomes, contrary to its intended purpose. Due to the critical condition of many neurosurgical patients, this patient population is most sensitive and likely to be negatively affected by proposed future increased restrictions.