The evolution from a wide-eyed trainee to a professional surgical neurophysiologist capable of supporting surgeons in the most complex procedures is a metamorphosis that is truly awesome and, with every graduating class, I’m reminded of the tremendous group effort behind the scenes. Our clinical instructors, medical office staff, senior surgical neurophysiologists, remote monitoring professionals, and operations leaders provide support and guidance every step of the way. This spirit of teamwork not only makes the training program successful, it also makes the goals of clinical excellence, continuous improvement, and patient-centered care achievable. I am thrilled to be part of such a group and I cannot wait to see our newest team members grow into the next SpecialtyCare IONM mentors and leaders.
Illegal referrals and inaccurate billing are often inadvertent, but can be part of deliberate and deceptive moneymaking schemes when physicians and other clinicians have ownership in outsourced providers for hospitals. Whether intentional or not, there is an ongoing pattern of regulatory compliance violations relating to the False Claims Act, the Stark Law, and the Anti-Kickback Statute. Headlines continue to regularly highlight fraudulent billing and illegal referrals that pose tremendous risk to hospitals, providers, and patients. Even alleged violations and pre-trial indictments can be costly given that regulatory agencies are authorized to suspend federal payments to providers under investigation.
In the fall of 2016, David Citarrella, SpecialtyCare’s Director of Operations for Intraoperative Neuromonitoring (IONM) in California and Nevada, let me know that an orthopedic surgeon in San Francisco planned to travel to the Republic of Moldova in Eastern Europe on a humanitarian mission. The surgeon, Dr. Dimitriy Kondrashov, had inquired about the use of IONM equipment to monitor spinal procedures during his trip. My first thought was, “What is he going to do with this equipment? It’s not like you just press one button to turn it on, then get a green light if all is good, or a red light if there is a problem.” I reached out directly to Dr. Kondrashov to see if I could help.
Scientists have been fascinated with the workings of the human nervous system dating back to the time of Hippocrates and well before. Today, as members of the healthcare community gain a greater understanding of the system—how to treat its disorders and protect its integrity—interest in the topic continues to grow. The American Clinical Neurophysiology Society (ACNS) has been a leader in education and training for the past 70 years, and its recent annual meeting continued this tradition. SpecialtyCare was pleased to present two new research studies at the event to advance the community’s understanding of intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) and its impact on patient health and safety.
The American Society of Neurophysiological Monitoring (ASNM) is “dedicated to the advancement of quality neurophysiologic monitoring services for neuroprotection.” Stated more simply, it’s all about patient safety. SpecialtyCare is deeply committed to supporting the Society and its mission to grow the profession, provide educational forums, develop quality standards, and build partnerships with allied healthcare professionals. As part of this commitment, members of our team serve in leadership roles with the ASNM and recently contributed several presentations at the organization’s Annual Meeting in May, an event celebrating 40 years of neuromonitoring.
Evidence-based patient blood management (PBM) strategies offer significant clinical benefits. Conservation techniques, in particular, help minimize the use of allogeneic red blood cell transfusion, which has been shown to increase the risk of postoperative complications, readmissions, and mortality among patients. Because of the importance of this area of study, SpecialtyCare researchers continue to drill down and analyze the perfusion and autotransfusion cases in SCOPE, the SpecialtyCare Operative Procedural Registry™, to examine the impact of various strategies, develop best practices, and improve patient outcomes.
To strengthen alignment among multiple surgical disciplines, the American Society of ExtraCorporeal Technology (AmSECT) and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) teamed up to present a terrific joint learning opportunity, holding AmSECT’s 55th International Conference in conjunction with the Centennial Meeting of the AATS in Boston. The integrated program was designed to improve care by bringing surgeons, perfusionists, and other experts together to foster effective communication and coordination in the operating room. The combined meeting was a great example of collaboration that advances quality through evidence-based learning and improvement. We are proud to have been part of this special event.
Both the American Medical Association and The Joint Commission consider red blood cell transfusion to be among the five most overused procedures, yet it remains one of the most commonly performed medical interventions in U.S. hospitals today. Vague clinical guidelines and long-held norms have created wide variation in the use of transfusion, but many administrators and clinicians are now realizing that reducing transfusion rates with evidence-based patient blood management programs can provide significant clinical and economic benefits.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of trust and confidence in the operating room when so much is on the line. The surgeon needs to know that every member of the OR team is experienced and reliable. This is especially true of the surgical assistant, who serves as an extension of the physician before, during, and after the procedure. In addition to providing exceptional clinical skills, a valuable surgical assistant (SA) understands the surgeon’s preferences and enables a rhythm and a shorthand that promote successful patient outcomes and surgeon satisfaction.
This weekend is Mother’s Day. The women who nurtured our young selves also inspired us to dream of who we could become. Many of us grew up witnessing these special women diligently pursuing excellence in scientific or health-related careers, and we chose to follow similar paths. Here are a few tributes to the mothers behind our SpecialtyCare family. We encourage you to take a few minutes to remember the women whose love and inspiration made a difference in your life.