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Sujatha Sankaran, John P. Andrews, Madeline Chicas, Robert M. Wachter and Mitchel S. Berger

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Michael M. Safaee, Ramin A. Morshed, Jordan Spatz, Sujatha Sankaran, Mitchel S. Berger and Manish K. Aghi

OBJECTIVE

Interfacility neurosurgical transfers to tertiary care centers are driven by a number of variables, including lack of on-site coverage, limited available technology, insurance factors, and patient preference. The authors sought to assess the timing and necessity of surgery and compared transfers to their institution from emergency departments (ED) and inpatient units at other hospitals.

METHODS

Adult neurosurgical patients who were transferred to a single tertiary care center were analyzed over 12 months. Patients with traumatic injuries or those referred from skilled nursing facilities or rehabilitation centers were excluded.

RESULTS

A total of 504 transferred patients were included, with mean age 55 years (range 19–92 years); 53% of patients were women. Points of origin were ED in 54% cases and inpatient hospital unit in 46%, with a mean distance traveled for most patients of 119 miles. Broad diagnosis categories included brain tumors (n = 142, 28%), vascular lesions, including spontaneous and hypertensive intracerebral hemorrhage (n = 143, 28%), spinal lesions (n = 126, 25%), hydrocephalus (n = 45, 9%), wound complications (n = 29, 6%), and others (n = 19, 4%). Patients transferred from inpatient units had higher rates of surgical intervention (75% vs 57%, p < 0.001), whereas patients transferred from the ED had higher rates of urgent surgery (20% vs 8%, p < 0.001) and shorter mean time to surgery (3 vs 5 days, p < 0.001). Misdiagnosis rates were higher among ED referrals (11% vs 4%, p = 0.008). Across the same timeframe, patients undergoing elective admission (n = 1986) or admission from the authors’ own ED (n = 248) had significantly shorter lengths of stay (p < 0.001) and ICU days (p < 0.001) than transferred patients, as well as a significantly lower total cost ($44,412, $46,163, and $72,175, respectively; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors present their 12-month experience from a single tertiary care center without Level I trauma designation. In this cohort, 65% of patients required surgery, but the rates were higher among inpatient referrals, and misdiagnosis rates were higher among ED transfers. These data suggest that admitting nonemergency patients to local hospitals may improve diagnostic accuracy of patients requiring urgent care, more precisely identify patients in need of transfer, and reduce costs. Referring facilities may lack necessary resources or expertise, and the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) obligates tertiary care centers to accept these patients under those circumstances. Telemedicine and integration of electronic medical records may help guide referring hospitals to pursue additional workup, which may eliminate the need for unnecessary transfer and provide additional cost savings.

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Tomasz Szmuda, Shan Ali and Paweł Słoniewski

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Joseph A. Osorio, Michael M. Safaee, Jennifer Viner, Sujatha Sankaran, Sarah Imershein, Ezekiel Adigun, Gabriela Weigel, Mitchel S. Berger and Michael W. McDermott

OBJECTIVE

The authors’ institution is in the top 5th percentile for hospital cost in the nation, and the neurointensive care unit (NICU) is one of the costliest units. The NICU is more expensive than other units because of lower staff/patient ratio and because of the equipment necessary to monitor patient care. The cost differential between the NICU and Neuro transitional care unit (NTCU) is $1504 per day. The goal of this study was to evaluate and to pilot a program to improve efficiency and lower cost by modifying the postoperative care of patients who have undergone a craniotomy, sending them to the NTCU as opposed to the NICU. Implementation of the pilot will expand and utilize neurosurgery beds available on the NTCU and reduce the burden on NICU beds for critically ill patient admissions.

METHODS

Ten patients who underwent craniotomy to treat supratentorial brain tumors were included. Prior to implementation of the pilot, inclusion criteria were designed for patient selection. Patients included were less than 65 years of age, had no comorbid conditions requiring postoperative intensive care unit (ICU) care, had a supratentorial meningioma less than 3 cm in size, had no intraoperative events, had routine extubation, and underwent surgery lasting fewer than 5 hours and had blood loss less than 500 ml. The Safe Transitions Pathway (STP) was started in August 2016.

RESULTS

Ten tumor patients have utilized the STP (5 convexity meningiomas, 2 metastatic tumors, 3 gliomas). Patients’ ages ranged from 29 to 75 years (median 49 years; an exception to the age limit of 65 years was made for one 75-year-old patient). Discharge from the hospital averaged 2.2 days postoperative, with 1 discharged on postoperative day (POD) 1, 7 discharged on POD 2, 1 discharged on POD 3, and 1 discharged on POD 4. Preliminary data indicate that quality and safety for patients following the STP (moving from the operating room [OR] to the neuro transitional care unit [OR-NTCU]) are no different from those of patients following the traditional OR-NICU pathway. No patients required escalation in level of nursing care, and there were no readmissions. This group has been followed for greater than 1 month, and there were no morbidities.

CONCLUSIONS

The STP is a new and efficient pathway for the postoperative care of neurosurgery patients. The STP has reduced hospital cost by $22,560 for the first 10 patients, and there were no morbidities. Since this pilot, the authors have expanded the pathway to include other surgical cases and now routinely schedule craniotomy patients for the (OR-NTCU) pathway. The potential cost reduction in one year could reach $500,000 if we reach our potential of 20 patients per month.

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Jacob S. Young, Andrew K. Chan, Jennifer A. Viner, Sujatha Sankaran, Alvin Y. Chan, Sarah Imershein, Aldea Meary-Miller, Philip V. Theodosopoulos, Line Jacques, Manish K. Aghi, Edward F. Chang, Shawn L. Hervey-Jumper, Tracy Ward, Liz Gibson, Mariann M. Ward, Peter Sanftner, Stacy Wong, Dominic Amara, Stephen T. Magill, Joseph A. Osorio, Brinda Venkatesh, Ralph Gonzales, Catherine Lau, Christy Boscardin, Michael Wang, Kim Berry, Laurie McCullagh, Mary Reid, Kayla Reels, Sara Nedkov, Mitchel S. Berger and Michael W. McDermott

OBJECTIVE

High-value medical care is described as care that leads to excellent patient outcomes, high patient satisfaction, and efficient costs. Neurosurgical care in particular can be expensive for the hospital, as substantial costs are accrued during the operation and throughout the postoperative stay. The authors developed a “Safe Transitions Pathway” (STP) model in which select patients went to the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) and then the neuro-transitional care unit (NTCU) rather than being directly admitted to the neurosciences intensive care unit (ICU) following a craniotomy. They sought to evaluate the clinical and financial outcomes as well as the impact on the patient experience for patients who participated in the STP and bypassed the ICU level of care.

METHODS

Patients were enrolled during the 2018 fiscal year (FY18; July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018). The electronic medical record was reviewed for clinical information and the hospital cost accounting record was reviewed for financial information. Nurses and patients were given a satisfaction survey to assess their respective impressions of the hospital stay and of the recovery pathway.

RESULTS

No patients who proceeded to the NTCU postoperatively were upgraded to the ICU level of care postoperatively. There were no deaths in the STP group, and no patients required a return to the operating room during their hospitalization (95% CI 0%–3.9%). There was a trend toward fewer 30-day readmissions in the STP patients than in the standard pathway patients (1.2% [95% CI 0.0%–6.8%] vs 5.1% [95% CI 2.5%–9.1%], p = 0.058). The mean number of ICU days saved per case was 1.20. The average postprocedure length of stay was reduced by 0.25 days for STP patients. Actual FY18 direct cost savings from 94 patients who went through the STP was $422,128.

CONCLUSIONS

Length of stay, direct cost per case, and ICU days were significantly less after the adoption of the STP, and ICU bed utilization was freed for acute admissions and transfers. There were no substantial complications or adverse patient outcomes in the STP group.