MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
David Schoppy, MD PhD
Resident, Division of Head and Neck Surgery
Department of Otolaryngology
Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, Palo Alto, California
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: There is a growing focus in healthcare on quality, and one component of this focus is the development of robust measures of quality. Currently, there are relatively few validated metrics of performance in oncologic surgery, and several of these indicators are relatively static metrics (such as hospital case volume and institution type).
This study examined the relationship between overall survival (one surrogate of quality cancer surgery) and two modifiable variables in Head and Neck surgery – achieving negative surgical margins around a primary tumor and 18 or more lymph nodes from a concurrent neck dissection. After controlling for multiple other patient variables, data collected from the National Cancer Database (NCDB) showed that treatment at hospitals where a high percentage of patients had a surgery with negative margins and 18 or more lymph nodes removed from their neck was associated with improved survival. Importantly, this survival benefit was independent of the individual, patient-level survival benefit conferred by having either of these surgical process measures reached.
This study therefore highlights two modifiable measures of institutional performance in Head and Neck surgery that may serve as targets for quality improvement programs.