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Improving Patient Safety in Spine Surgeries

In This Video

  • Inpatient safety is one of the most important parts of spinal deformity surgery
  • Here, John Shin, MD, describes how he has formed a multidisciplinary team with colleagues in orthopedic spine surgery and plastic surgery
  • Collaborations have reduced operation time, blood loss and infection rate
  • Dr. Shin's hope is to promote a team-based approach to dramatically improve patient outcomes and safety

In-patient safety is an important aspect of spinal deformity surgery. John Shin, MD, director of Metastatic Spine Oncology and Spinal Deformity Surgery, describes how he has formed a multidisciplinary team that includes collaborators in the Orthopaedic Spine Center and colleagues in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. These collaborations reduced the operation time, blood loss and infection rate. His hope is to promote a team-based approach to dramatically improve patient outcomes and safety in spine surgeries.


A major area of interest in spinal deformity surgery and research is in patient safety. There is a growing body of literature and evidence demonstrating the effect from this as well as the utility of having more than one surgeon perform these operations. For this reason, we've looked at our experience here, and in developing this program here at the Mass General, I've reached out to other colleagues in surgical specialties to help develop a team to help these patients through these operations. I have collaborators in orthopedic spine surgery who are very much interested in taking care of these patients, as well as colleagues in plastic surgery who help us perform complex soft tissue reconstructions for these patients who not only have complex bony disorders, but also have complex wounds that need to be repaired as well. 

Including these two other surgical specialties into our surgical team has dramatically reduced our operative time, blood loss, as well as our infection rate. Including the plastic surgeon into the surgeries upfront at the time of the initial surgery has significantly benefited the patients with regards to wound healing and also decreasing their infection rate.

We've presented our experience with implementing this three surgeon type team approach for complex cervical and cervical thoracic deformities at national and international meetings. Our goal is to promote this type of team based approach and to show that with multiple experts operating all for the patient's benefit that we can dramatically improve their outcomes and their safety.

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