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Quality of the Patient Experience during Radiosurgery: Measurement toward Improvement

  • Kondziolka, Douglas
  • LoPresti, Melissa
  • Tyburczy, Amy
  • Golden, Cassandra
  • Seto, Timmy
  • Boulio, Lynda
  • Doody, Caitlyn
  • Yeh, Brian
  • Silverman, Joshua
Published Article
Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery
S. Karger AG
Publication Date
May 14, 2016
DOI: 10.1159/000445545
PMID: 27172769
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Background: All physicians seek to improve the patient experience. In an awake surgical procedure, the patient has a unique opportunity to comment on all aspects of care. The provision of a positive experience is part of quality health care. Our purpose was to define this experience to determine areas for improvement. Methods: We evaluated 125 patients who underwent stereotactic radiosurgery using a frame-based, gamma knife technique. Patients were surveyed by a nurse practitioner across all elements of their procedural experience prior to same-day discharge. Results: The radiosurgery was completed in all patients with same-day discharge. In an initial 100-patient cohort, 89 patients said they had received adequate oral and/or intravenous sedation before the procedure. All 100 patients said that they felt comfortable before stereotactic frame application, and all patients later remembered frame application. These patients described frame application as very or adequately comfortable (n = 73), minimally uncomfortable (n = 18), or very uncomfortable (n = 9). Neuroimaging was described as very or adequately comfortable (n = 93), minimally uncomfortable (n = 3), or very uncomfortable (n = 4). Radiosurgery in the gamma knife unit was found to be very or adequately comfortable (n = 99) or very uncomfortable (n = 1). We evaluated how 8 separate factors may have contributed to survey responses related to procedural comfort. These factors included intravenous line placement, delivery of sedation medications, application of the head frame, having the MRI, having radiosurgery on the gamma knife bed, removal of the stereotactic frame, communication with caregivers, and knowing what to expect beforehand. We asked the patients to rate their nursing care during the radiosurgery experience, and ‘excellent' was chosen by all initial 100 patients. Other elements of the procedure were also studied as well as suggestions for improvement. As a secondary objective, we then modified our protocol to include sodium bicarbonate added to the local anesthetic for frame application and evaluated an additional cohort of 25 patients. Conclusions: Utilizing a system of physician and nursing education, together with pharmacological sedation and efficient procedural steps, patients said that intravenous line placement (91%), stereotactic frame application (74%), MRI (93%), receiving radiosurgery in the unit (99%), frame removal (84%), communication with caregivers (100%), and knowing what to expect beforehand (97%) were either very or adequately comfortable. Specific evaluations of care processes can lead to care improvement.

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