Clinical Quality Measures for Intraoperative and Perioperative Management in Carpal Tunnel Surgery

Published in: Hand, v. 6, no. 2, June 2011, p. 119-131

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2011

by Teryl K. Nuckols, Melinda Maggard Gibbons, Neil G Harness, Walter T Chang, Kevin C. Chung, Steven M. Asch

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BACKGROUND: Previous research documents suboptimal preoperative or postoperative care for patients undergoing surgery. However, few existing quality measures directly address the fundamental element of surgical care: intra-operative care processes. This study sought to develop quality measures for intraoperative, preoperative, and postoperative care for carpal tunnel surgery, a common operation in the USA. METHODS: We applied a variation of the well-established RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method. Adherence to measures developed using this method has been associated with improved patient outcomes in several studies. Hand surgeons and quality measurement experts developed draft measures using guidelines and literature. Subsequently, in a two-round modified-Delphi process, a multidisciplinary panel of 11 national experts in carpal tunnel syndrome (including six surgeons) reviewed structured summaries of the evidence and rated the measures for validity (association with improved patient outcomes) and feasibility (ability to be assessed using medical records). RESULTS: Of 25 draft measures, panelists judged 22 (88%) to be valid and feasible. Nine intraoperative measures addressed the location and extent of surgical dissection, release after wrist trauma, endoscopic release, and four procedures sometimes performed during carpal tunnel surgery. Eleven measures covered preoperative and postoperative evaluation and management. CONCLUSIONS: We have developed several measures that experts, including surgeons, believe to reflect the quality of care processes occurring during carpal tunnel surgery and be assessable using medical records. Although quality measures like these cannot assess a surgeon's skill in handling the instruments, they can assess many important aspects of intraoperative care. Intraoperative measures should be developed for other procedures.

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