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Vincent Rossi, Anthony Asher, David Peters, Scott L. Zuckerman, Mark Smith, Martin Henegar, Hunter Dyer, Domagoj Coric, Deborah Pfortmiller, Tim Adamson and Matthew McGirt

OBJECTIVE

Several studies have demonstrated that anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery in the outpatient versus hospital setting provides improved efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and patient satisfaction without a compromise in safety or outcome. Recent anecdotal reports, however, have questioned whether outpatient ACDF surgery is safe in the > 65-year-old Medicare population. To date, no clinical study has assessed the safety of outpatient ACDF in an ambulatory surgery center (ASC), specifically in a Medicare population. The authors set out to analyze their 3-year experience with Medicare-enrolled patients undergoing ACDF surgery at a single ASC to determine its safety profile, perioperative care protocol, and associated outcomes.

METHODS

A retrospective analysis of 119 consecutive patients > 65 years (Medicare-eligible) who underwent 1-, 2-, or 3-level ACDF at a single ASC from 2015 to 2018 (since Medicare payment approval) was conducted. All patients were in American Society of Anesthesiologists classes I–III. Postoperatively, patients were observed for a minimum of 4 hours in a recovery setting for the following factors: neck swelling, neurological status, ability to swallow solid food, and urination capacity. All patients received a multimodal pain management regimen prior to discharge home. Data were collected on patient demographics, comorbidities, operative details, and all perioperative and 90-day morbidity.

RESULTS

Complete data were available for all 119 consecutive Medicare-eligible patients, 97 (81.5%) of whom were actively enrolled in Medicare. One-, 2-, and 3-level ACDFs were performed in 103 (86.6%), 15 (12.6%), and 1 (0.8%) patients, respectively. No patients required return to the operating room for intervention within the 4-hour postanesthesia care unit observation window. No patients required transfer from the ASC to the hospital setting for further observation or intervention. Thirty-day adverse events were reported in 2.4% of cases, all of which resolved by 90 days after surgery. The incidence of 90-day hospital readmission was 1.7% (n = 2), with 1 patient (0.8%) requiring reoperation at the index level for deep infection. All-cause 90-day mortality was 0%.

CONCLUSIONS

An analysis of consecutive Medicare patients (American Society of Anesthesiologists classes I–III) who underwent mostly 1-level and some 2-level ACDFs in an ASC setting demonstrates that surgical complications occur at a low rate with a safety profile similar to that reported for both inpatient ACDF and patients younger than 65 years. In an effort to reduce cost and improve efficiency of care, surgeons can safely perform ACDF in the Medicare population in an ASC environment utilizing patient selection criteria and perioperative management similar to those reported here.

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Scott L. Zuckerman, Clinton J. Devin, Vincent Rossi, Silky Chotai, E. Hunter Dyer, John J. Knightly, Eric A. Potts, Kevin T. Foley, Erica F. Bisson, Steven D. Glassman, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Mohamad Bydon and Anthony L. Asher

OBJECTIVE

National databases collect large amounts of clinical information, yet application of these data can be challenging. The authors present the NeuroPoint Alliance and Institute for Healthcare Improvement (NPA-IHI) program as a novel attempt to create a quality improvement (QI) tool informed through registry data to improve the quality of care delivered. Reducing the length of stay (LOS) and readmission after elective lumbar fusion was chosen as the pilot module.

METHODS

The NPA-IHI program prospectively enrolled patients undergoing elective 1- to 3-level lumbar fusions across 8 institutions. A three-pronged approach was taken that included the following phases: 1) Research Phase, 2) Development Phase, and 3) Implementation Phase. Primary outcomes were LOS and readmission. From January to June 2017, a learning system was created utilizing monthly conference calls, weekly data submission, and continuous refinement of the proposed QI tool. Nonparametric tests were used to assess the impact of the QI intervention.

RESULTS

The novel QI tool included the following three areas of intervention: 1) preoperative discharge assessment (location, date, and instructions), 2) inpatient changes (LOS rounding checklist, daily huddle, and pain assessments), and 3) postdischarge calls (pain, primary care follow-up, and satisfaction). A total of 209 patients were enrolled, and the most common procedure was a posterior laminectomy/fusion (60.2%). Seven patients (3.3%) were readmitted during the study period. Preoperative discharge planning was completed for 129 patients (61.7%). A shorter median LOS was seen in those with a known preoperative discharge date (67 vs 80 hours, p = 0.018) and clear discharge instructions (71 vs 81 hours, p = 0.030). Patients with a known preoperative discharge plan also reported significantly increased satisfaction (8.0 vs 7.0, p = 0.028), and patients with increased discharge readiness (scale 0–10) also reported higher satisfaction (r = 0.474, p < 0.001). Those receiving postdischarge calls (76%) had a significantly shorter LOS than those without postdischarge calls (75 vs 99 hours, p = 0.020), although no significant relationship was seen between postdischarge calls and readmission (p = 0.342).

CONCLUSIONS

The NPA-IHI program showed that preoperative discharge planning and postdischarge calls have the potential to reduce LOS and improve satisfaction after elective lumbar fusion. It is our hope that neurosurgical providers can recognize how registries can be used to both develop and implement a QI tool and appreciate the importance of QI implementation as a separate process from data collection/analysis.