Role of North America and AANS in Global Neurosurgery

Approximately 28% of the global burden of disease is surgical (1). There is an estimated deficit of 90,909 neurosurgeons globally, who must care for an additional 14 million neurosurgical patients annually (2). In a study published by Alkire et al. on global access to surgical care, it was revealed that approximately two-thirds of the world’s population, comprising 4.8 billion people, do not have access to timely, affordable, or safe surgical care. The study also concluded that 99.3% of Lower-Income Countries (LICs) and 96.7% of Lower Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) populations do not have access to safe surgery (3).

Historically, global health policies focused on specific issues like access to healthcare and outcomes of infectious disease treatment and vaccinations. In January 2014, the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery (LCoGS), headed by healthcare leaders from 111 countries, gathered in Boston to research and propose strategies to improve surgery access globally. One of the committee’s goals was to bring surgeons from different socio-economic strata under one roof to facilitate collaboration and fruitful exchange of ideas. The committee also motivated the higher-income countries of North America to collaborate and shrink the existing hiatus in surgical access present in lower and middle-income countries (4). Since then, significant progress has been achieved in this regard under the leadership of North American academic institutes, neurosurgical societies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and even individual surgeons

Surgical data strengthening in Ethiopia: results of a Kirkpatrick framework evaluation of a data quality intervention

Background: One key challenge in improving surgical care in resource-limited settings is the lack of high-quality and informative data. In Ethiopia, the Safe Surgery 2020 (SS2020) project developed surgical key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate surgical care within the country. New data collection methods were developed and piloted in 10 SS2020 intervention hospitals in the Amhara and Tigray regions of Ethiopia.

Objective: To assess the feasibility of collecting and reporting new surgical indicators and measure the impact of a surgical Data Quality Intervention (DQI) in rural Ethiopian hospitals.

Methods: An 8-week DQI was implemented to roll-out new data collection tools in SS2020 hospitals. The Kirkpatrick Method, a widely used mixed-method evaluation framework for training programs, was used to assess the impact of the DQI. Feedback surveys and focus groups at various timepoints evaluated the impact of the intervention on surgical data quality, the feasibility of a new data collection system, and the potential for national scale-up.

Results: Results of the evaluation are largely positive and promising. DQI participants reported knowledge gain, behavior change, and improved surgical data quality, as well as greater teamwork, communication, leadership, and accountability among surgical staff. Barriers remained in collection of high-quality data, such as lack of adequate human resources and electronic data reporting infrastructure.

Conclusions: Study results are largely positive and make evident that surgical data capture is feasible in low-resource settings and warrants more investment in global surgery efforts. This type of training and mentorship model can be successful in changing individual behavior and institutional culture regarding surgical data collection and reporting. Use of the Kirkpatrick Framework for evaluation of a surgical DQI is an innovative contribution to literature and can be easily adapted and expanded for use within global surgery.

Assessment of Anesthesia Capacity in Public Surgical Hospitals in Guatemala

International standards for safe anesthetic care have been developed by the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Whether these standards are met is unknown in many nations, including Guatemala, a country with universal health coverage. We aimed to establish an overview of anesthesia care capacity in public surgical hospitals in Guatemala to help guide public sector health care development.

In partnership with the Guatemalan Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance (MSPAS), a national survey of all public hospitals providing surgical care was conducted using the WFSA anesthesia facility assessment tool (AFAT) in 2018. Each facility was assessed for infrastructure, service delivery, workforce, medications, equipment, and monitoring practices. Descriptive statistics were calculated and presented.

Of the 46 public hospitals in Guatemala in 2018, 36 (78%) were found to provide surgical care, including 20 district, 14 regional, and 2 national referral hospitals. We identified 573 full-time physician surgeons, anesthesiologists, and obstetricians (SAO) in the public sector, with an estimated SAO density of 3.3/100,000 population. There were 300 full-time anesthesia providers working at public hospitals. Physician anesthesiologists made up 47% of these providers, with an estimated physician anesthesiologist density of 0.8/100,000 population. Only 10% of district hospitals reported having an anesthesia provider continuously present intraoperatively during general or neuraxial anesthesia cases. No hospitals reported assessing pain in the immediate postoperative period. While the availability of some medications such as benzodiazepines and local anesthetics was robust (100% availability across all hospitals), not all hospitals had essential medications such as ketamine, epinephrine, or atropine. There were deficiencies in the availability of essential equipment and basic intraoperative monitors, such as end-tidal carbon dioxide detectors (17% availability across all hospitals). Postoperative care and access to resuscitative equipment, such as defibrillators, were also lacking.

This first countrywide, MSPAS-led assessment of anesthesia capacity at public facilities in Guatemala revealed a lack of essential materials and personnel to provide safe anesthesia and surgery. Hospitals surveyed often did not have resources regardless of hospital size or level, which may suggest multiple factors preventing availability and use. Local and national policy initiatives are needed to address these deficiencies.

Developing Process Maps as a Tool for a Surgical Infection Prevention Quality Improvement Initiative in Resource-Constrained Settings.

Surgical infections cause substantial morbidity and mortality in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). To improve adherence to critical perioperative infection prevention standards, we developed Clean Cut, a checklist-based quality improvement program to improve compliance with best practices. We hypothesized that process mapping infection prevention activities can help clinicians identify strategies for improving surgical safety.We introduced Clean Cut at a tertiary hospital in Ethiopia. Infection prevention standards included skin antisepsis, ensuring a sterile field, instrument decontamination/sterilization, prophylactic antibiotic administration, routine swab/gauze counting, and use of a surgical safety checklist. Processes were mapped by a visiting surgical fellow and local operating theater staff to facilitate the development of contextually relevant solutions; processes were reassessed for improvements.Process mapping helped identify barriers to using alcohol-based hand solution due to skin irritation, inconsistent administration of prophylactic antibiotics due to variable delivery outside of the operating theater, inefficiencies in assuring sterility of surgical instruments through lack of confirmatory measures, and occurrences of retained surgical items through inappropriate guidelines, staffing, and training in proper routine gauze counting. Compliance with most processes improved significantly following organizational changes to align tasks with specific process goals.Enumerating the steps involved in surgical infection prevention using a process mapping technique helped identify opportunities for improving adherence and plotting contextually relevant solutions, resulting in superior compliance with antiseptic standards. Simplifying these process maps into an adaptable tool could be a powerful strategy for improving safe surgery delivery in LMICs.

Traffic flow and microbial air contamination in operating rooms at a major teaching hospital in Ghana.

Current literature examining the relationship between door-opening rate, number of people present, and microbial air contamination in the operating room is limited. Studies are especially needed from low- and middle-income countries, where the risk of surgical site infections is high.

To assess microbial air contamination in operating rooms at a Ghanaian teaching hospital and the association with door-openings and number of people present. Moreover, we aimed to document reasons for door-opening.

We conducted active air-sampling using an MAS 100® portable impactor during 124 clean or clean-contaminated elective surgical procedures. The number of people present, door-opening rate and the reasons for each door-opening were recorded by direct observation using pretested structured observation forms.

During surgery, the mean number of colony-forming units (cfu) was 328 cfu/m3 air, and 429 (84%) of 510 samples exceeded a recommended level of 180 cfu/m3. Of 6717 door-openings recorded, 77% were considered unnecessary. Levels of cfu/m3 were strongly correlated with the number of people present (P = 0.001) and with the number of door-openings/h (P = 0.02). In empty operating rooms, the mean cfu count was 39 cfu/m3 after 1 h of uninterrupted ventilation and 52 (51%) of 102 samples exceeded a recommended level of 35 cfu/m3.

The study revealed high values of intraoperative airborne cfu exceeding recommended levels. Minimizing the number of door-openings and people present during surgery could be an effective strategy to reduce microbial air contamination in low- and middle-income settings