Patient Follow-up After Orthopaedic Outreach Trips – Do We Know Whether Patients are Improving?

The burden of traumatic musculoskeletal injuries falls greatest on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). To help address this burden, organizations host over 6,000 outreach trips annually, 20% of which are orthopaedic. Monitoring post-surgical outcomes is critical to ensuring care quality; however, the implementation of such monitoring is unknown. The purpose of this review is to identify published follow-up practices of short-term orthopaedic surgery outreach trips to LMICs.

We completed a systematic review of Pubmed, Web of Science, EMBASE, and ProQuest following PRISMA guidelines. Follow-up method, rate, duration, and types of outcomes measured along with barriers to follow-up were collected and reported.

The initial search yielded 1,452 articles, 18 of which were eligible. The mean follow-up time was 5.4 months (range: 15 days-7 years). The mean follow-up rate was 65.8% (range: 22%-100%), the weighted rate was 57.5%. Fifteen studies reported follow-up at or after 3 months while eight studies reported follow-up at or after 9 months. Fifteen studies reported follow-up in person, three reported follow-up via phone call or SMS. Outcome reporting varied among mortality, complications, and patient-reported outcomes. The majority (75%) outlined barriers to follow-up, most commonly noting transportation and costs of follow-up to the patient.

There is minimal and heterogeneous public reporting of patient outcomes and follow-up after outreach trips to LMICs, limiting quality assessment and improvement. Future work should address the design and implementation of tools and guidelines to improve follow-up as well as outcome measurement to ensure provision of high-quality care.

Rising Global Opportunities Among Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Programs

We surveyed Orthopaedic Surgery Residency (OSR) programs to determine international opportunities by the academic institutional region within the United States, location of the international experience, duration, residency program year (PGY), funding source, and resident participation to date.

We emailed a survey to all OSR programs in the United States to inquire about global opportunities in their residency programs. Further contact was made through an additional e-mail and up to three telephone calls. Data were analyzed using descriptive and chi-square statistics. This study was institutional review board exempt.

This research study was conducted at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a tertiary care facility in conjunction with the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine.

The participants of this research study included program directors and coordinators of all OSR programs (185) across the United States.

A total of 102 OSR programs completed the survey (55% response rate). Notably, 50% of the responding programs offered a global health opportunity to their residents. Of the institutions that responded, those in the Midwest or South were more likely to offer the opportunity than institutions found in other US regions, although regional differences were not significant. Global experiences were most commonly: in Central or South America (41%); 1 to 2 weeks in duration (54%); and during PGY4 or PGY5 (71%). Furthermore, half of the programs provided full funding for the residents to participate in the global experience. In 33% of the programs, 10 or more residents had participated to date.

Interest in global health among medical students is increasing. OSR programs have followed this trend, increasing their global health opportunities by 92% since 2015. Communicating the availability of and support for international opportunities to future residents may help interested students make informed decisions when applying to residency programs.

The Role of the Orthopaedic Surgeon in the COVID-19 Era: Cautions and Perspectives

The current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has revolutionized global healthcare in an unprecedented way and with unimaginable repercussions. Resource reallocation, socioeconomic confinement and reorganization of production activities are current challenges being faced both at the national and international levels, in a frame of uncertainty and fear. Hospitals have been restructured to provide the best care to COVID-19 patients while adopting preventive strategies not to spread the infection among healthcare providers and patients affected by other diseases. As a consequence, the concept of urgency and indications for elective treatments have been profoundly reshaped. In addition, several providers have been recruited in COVID-19 departments despite their original occupation, resulting in a profound rearrangement of both inpatient and outpatient care. Orthopaedic daily practice has been significantly affected by the pandemic. Surgical indications have been reformulated, with elective cases being promptly postponed and urgent interventions requiring exceptional attention, especially in suspected or COVID-19+ patients. This has made a strong impact on inpatient management, with the need of a dedicated staff, patient isolation and restrictive visiting hour policies. On the other hand, outpatient visits have been limited to reduce contacts between patients and the hospital personnel, with considerable consequences on post-operative quality of care and the human side of medical practice.

In this review, we aim to analyze the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the orthopaedic practice. Particular attention will be dedicated to opportune surgical indication, perioperative care and safe management of both inpatients and outpatients, also considering repercussions of the pandemic on resident education and ethical implications.