Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Controversies in OR infection control

Like professional athletes, Skeptical Scalpel sometimes talks about himself in the third person. A recent article in Clinical Infectious Diseases [CID] confirms what Skeptical Scalpel has said about a couple of controversial topics in infection control.

The article by surgeons from the University of Washington was published online in late May of this year and gives historical context to some of the standard operating room practices we currently argue about.

Regarding operating room headgear, the authors dissect and refute the positions endorsed by the Association of periOperative Nurses (AORN) that hair and airborne bacteria cause infections. In fact, they say wearing of any kind of hat in the OR may actually disperse more bacteria due to the effect of the hat rubbing against the hair and causing an increase in bacterial shedding.

They conclude “there is little reason to support the AORN recommendations regarding head covering.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What were attrition rates in surgical residency programs 25 years ago?

Last month I blogged about the 20% attrition rate of general surgery resident over the last 25 years, and a recent paper presented at a national meeting that found after following the general surgery resident class of 2007, 20% had dropped out for one reason or another.

A reader who calls himself Artiger commented on that piece asking, “Is there any data on resident attrition prior to 1992? Just curious if this has been a problem for more than the past 25 years.”

I responded that I wasn’t aware of any such studies but I would try to find out.

Most of the few papers written about attrition back in the day focused on one residency program or one medical school’s graduates.

Until the middle of the 1990s, many surgical residency programs were pyramidal—that is, they took more categorical first-year residents than they had chief residency positions. For example, when I began my training in 1971, my program had 12 first-year residents, decreasing to 8 in the second-year and only 4 chiefs.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Parathyroids Anonymous

A One Act Play by Leo Gordon, MD

Dedicated to Parathyroid Surgeons
All proceeds from the production of this play go to Parathyroids Anonymous--An international organization dedicated to the well-being of those who perform parathyroid surgery

Scene: A sparsely furnished church basement. Rain is beating against the window panes. Folding chairs are arranged in a semi-circle. Participants are drinking from plastic cups. Some are in scrub suits. All appear tired.

Don: Hello. My name is Don and I’m a parathyroid surgeon.

All: Hello Don

Don: I will be your facilitator tonight. We have a new member so let me set the ground rules. All of us in this room are parathyroid surgeons. We maintain our anonymity as we discuss the mental and physical distress that parathyroid surgery engenders. There are no boundaries at our meetings. We speak openly and freely. Use your first name only. And of course, no patient names. Who wants to begin?

Miriam: (Nervously) Hello. My name is Miriam and I am a parathyroid surgeon.

All: Hello Miriam

Miriam: I’ve been here a few times but I’m a little bit nervous.

Don: Don’t be nervous Miriam. We all share the same problems.

Miriam: Well… last week. (Begins sobbing)

Don: Now Miriam, just relax. Please continue.

Miriam: I had a 56 year old woman referred to me with hypercalcemia. She had had elegant localizing studies at our hospital. Both studies – nuclear and sonographic - stated with metaphysical certainty that there was an adenoma of the right lower gland. Yet (sobbing) when we explored the area, there was no adenoma present. All we found was a normal sized parathyroid gland!

Al: (Hands Miriam a handkerchief)

Don: Go on, Miriam

Friday, July 7, 2017

The problem of “copy and paste” in electronic records

As opposed to text that is copied and pasted or imported from another part of the electronic record, the average amount of manually entered information in a progress note is

a. 18%
b. 29%
c. 43%
d. 55%
e. 70 %

A study of 23,630 internal medicine progress notes written by 460 different hospitalists, residents, and medical students found that a mean of only 18% of the text was created by hand with 46% copied and pasted from previous note or somewhere else and 36% imported from another part of the record such as a medication list.

The analysis, done at the University of California San Francisco*, was possible because the Epic electronic medical record used there can provide the provenance of every character entered in a progress note.

Medical students had the highest percentage of manually entered text and wrote longest notes—averaging 7053 characters, but even the shortest notes, by hospitalists, averaged 5006 characters. For reference, this post contains 1189 characters.

Manual entry comprised 11.8% of resident notes with 51.4% of the remaining information copied and pasted and 36.8% imported.

Think about it. For all groups, less than one-fifth of every progress note they wrote was original material. For resident notes, it was closer to 10%.

The authors cautioned that their study was limited to a single service at a single institution, but I suspect the results would be fairly similar in many if not most hospitals.

*Location of the study corrected on 7/7/17.