All Publications

  • In Reply to the Letter to the Editor Regarding "Neurosurgical Outcomes Among Non-English Speakers: A Systematic Review and a Framework for Future Research". World neurosurgery Ruiz Colon, G. D., Prolo, L. M. 2024; 187: 273

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.wneu.2024.04.034

    View details for PubMedID 38970193

  • Language-discordant care in pediatric neurosurgery: parent and provider perspectives on challenges and multilevel solutions to reduce disparities. Journal of neurosurgery. Pediatrics Ruiz Colon, G. D., Bereknyei Merrell, S., Poon, D. C., Mahaney, K. B., Maher, C. O., Prolo, L. M. 2024: 1-7


    OBJECTIVE: In the United States, Spanish is the second most spoken language, with nearly 42 million individuals speaking Spanish at home. Spanish speakers have been noted to have higher rates of unfavorable neurosurgical outcomes; however, to the authors' knowledge, no study has explored the experiences of patients, caregivers, and providers receiving or delivering neurosurgical care in language-discordant settings. In this study, the authors sought to identify challenges faced by pediatric neurosurgery providers and Spanish-speaking parents communicating with a language barrier and propose solutions to address those challenges.METHODS: Spanish-speaking parents and pediatric neurosurgery providers were invited to participate in semistructured interviews. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit Spanish-speaking parents whose child had recently undergone neurological surgery at the authors' institution and to identify pediatric neurosurgery clinical team members to interview, including physicians, advanced practice providers, and interpreters. Codes were inductively developed and applied to transcripts by two researchers. Thematic analysis was conducted to identify challenges faced by parents and providers.RESULTS: Twenty individuals were interviewed, including parents (n = 8), advanced practice providers (n = 5), physicians (n = 3), interpreters (n = 2), a social worker (n = 1), and a nurse (n = 1). Three challenges were identified. 1) Compared with English-speaking parents, providers noted that Spanish-speaking parents were less likely to ask questions or raise new concerns. Concurrently, Spanish-speaking parents expressed a desire to better understand their child's future medical needs, care, and development. 2) There is a dearth of high-quality resources available in the Spanish language to supplement patient and parent neurosurgical education. 3) Both parents and providers invariably prefer in-person interpreters; however, their availability is limited.CONCLUSIONS: Three challenges were identified by Spanish-speaking parents of pediatric neurosurgery patients and providers when receiving or delivering care through a language barrier. The authors discuss multilevel solutions that, if deployed, could directly address these shared challenges. Furthermore, optimizing communication may help mitigate the disparities experienced by non-English-speaking Hispanic/Latino individuals when receiving neurosurgical care.

    View details for DOI 10.3171/2024.1.PEDS23435

    View details for PubMedID 38518279

  • Neurosurgical Outcomes Among Non-English Speakers: A Systematic Review and a Framework for Future Research. World neurosurgery Ruiz Colon, G. D., Barros Guinle, M. I., Wu, A., Grant, G. A., Prolo, L. M. 2024


    OBJECTIVE: In 2019, 22% of adults in the United States reported speaking a language other than English at home, representing 52% growth since 2000. This diversity in languages - and resulting possible communication barriers - represents a potential challenge to effective care. In this manuscript, we summarize clinical outcomes and healthcare utilization patterns of adult and pediatric neurosurgical patients who are non-English primary language speakers (NEPLS).METHODS: We systematically queried five databases from inception through October 2022. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines were followed to identify studies for inclusion. The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale was used to assess the quality of studies. Additionally, a retrospective chart review was conducted to assess differences in postoperative communication patterns in a cohort of English and Spanish speaking patients with craniosynostosis at our institution.RESULTS: Our search yielded 442 abstracts; ten were included in the final cohort. Outcomes for 973 unique NEPLS with a neurosurgical condition were included; Spanish was the most represented language. Delivery and timing of surgical treatment was the most frequently reported metric; 75% of studies demonstrated a statistically significant delay in time to surgery or decreased likelihood for NEPLS to receive surgical treatment. Length of stay (LOS) was reported in three studies; all demonstrated that NEPLS had longer LOS.CONCLUSION: There is a paucity of literature reporting outcomes among NEPLS. It is critical to examine NEPLS patients' outcomes and experiences, as language barriers are potentially modifiable demographic factors. We present a framework that demonstrates opportunities for further research to improve quality of care.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.wneu.2024.02.068

    View details for PubMedID 38387790

  • How Many Lives Will You Save? A Mixed Methods Evaluation of a Novel, Online Game for Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Education. American journal of medical quality : the official journal of the American College of Medical Quality Ruiz Colon, G., Evans, K., Kanzawa, M., Phadke, A., Katznelson, L., Shieh, L. 2023


    Medical trainees have limited knowledge of quality improvement and patient safety concepts. The authors developed a free quality improvement/patient safety educational game entitled Safety Quest (SQ). However, 1803 undergraduate medical trainees, graduate medical trainees, and continuing medical education learners globally completed at least 1 level of SQ. Pre- and post-SQ knowledge and satisfaction were assessed among continuing medical education learners. Thematic analysis of feedback given by trainees was conducted. Among graduate medical trainees, SQ outranked other learning modalities. Three content areas emerged from feedback: engagement, ease of use, and effectiveness; 87% of comments addressing engagement were positive. After completing SQ, 98.6% of learners passed the post-test, versus 59.2% for the pretest (P < 0.0001). Ninety-three percent of learners agreed that SQ was engaging and interactive, and 92% believed it contributed to their professional growth. With an increased need for educational curricula to be delivered virtually, gamification emerges as a unique strategy that learners praise as engaging and effective.

    View details for DOI 10.1097/JMQ.0000000000000153

    View details for PubMedID 37882817

  • Disparities in Postoperative Communication Patterns Among Spanish-Speaking Pediatric Patients with Hydrocephalus. The Journal of pediatrics Ruiz Colón, G. D., Pizzitola, R. J., Grant, G. A., Prolo, L. M. 2023: 113678


    To determine if differences exist in postoperative communication patterns or healthcare utilization among English-speaking patients (ESPs) and Spanish-speaking patients (SSPs) with childhood hydrocephalus.A single-institution, retrospective cohort study was conducted. Through simple random sampling, fifty ESPs and fifty SSPs (<18 years old) who underwent a ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) or endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) were identified. Demographics, communication with clinic (eg, number of calls/messages postoperatively), and healthcare utilization were collected. Multiple linear regressions assessed the significance of predictors on communication frequency and utilization.SSPs were more likely to have a comorbidity and VPS than ESPs. SSPs had longer median postoperative length of stay (p<0.01) and 30-day readmission (p<0.01) than ESPs. Only 18% of SSPs communicated with clinic; 11 total calls/messages from SSPs versus 57 from ESPs (p<0.01). The most common reason for outreach among both cohorts was a new symptom. ESP outreach most frequently resulted in reassurance or medical course changes on an outpatient basis (30% ESPs vs. 0% SSPs, p=0.04), whereas SSP outreach most frequently resulted in guidance to present to the emergency department (ED, 3% ESPs vs. 36% SSPs, p<0.01). Language remained a significant predictor for number of calls/messages even after adjusting for comorbidity, operation type, and insurance (p<0.01).Despite having more complex disease, only 18% of SSPs communicated with the neurosurgical team postoperatively and were more frequently sent to the ED for management. Future research will explore communication barriers and preferences to ensure postoperative care is timely and patient-centered.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2023.113678

    View details for PubMedID 37611737

  • Letter: A Call for Enhanced Diversity Efforts in the Physician Pipeline in the Face of Legal Threats. Neurosurgery Ruiz Colón, G. D., Harris, O. A. 2023

    View details for DOI 10.1227/neu.0000000000002573

    View details for PubMedID 37345916

  • Quality and patient safety research in pediatric neurosurgery: a review. Child's nervous system : ChNS : official journal of the International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery Ruiz Colón, G. D., Wu, A., Ratliff, J. K., Prolo, L. M. 2023


    In 2001, the National Academy of Medicine, formerly known as the Institute of Medicine (IOM), published their seminal work, Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century. In this work, the authors called for improved safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, timeliness, efficiency, and equity in the United States' healthcare system. Two decades after the publication of this work, healthcare costs continue to rise, but outcomes lag other nations. The objective of this narrative review is to describe research efforts in pediatric neurosurgery with respect to the six quality aims proposed by the IOM, and highlight additional research opportunities.PubMed, Google Scholar, and EBSCOhost were queried to identify studies in pediatric neurosurgery that have addressed the aims proposed by the IOM. Studies were summarized and synthesized to develop a set of research opportunities to advance quality of care.Twenty-three studies were reviewed which focused on the six quality aims proposed by the IOM. Out of these studies, five research opportunities emerged: (1) To examine performance of tools of care, (2) To understand processes surrounding care delivery, (3) To conduct cost-effectiveness analyses for a broader range of neurosurgical conditions, (4) To identify barriers driving healthcare disparities, and (5) To understand patients' and caregivers' experiences receiving care, and subsequently develop tools and programs to address their needs and preferences.There is a growing body of literature examining quality in pediatric neurosurgical care across all aims proposed by the IOM. However, there remains important gaps in the literature that, if addressed, will advance the quality of pediatric neurosurgical care delivery.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00381-022-05821-z

    View details for PubMedID 36695845

  • A Protocol for Reducing Intensive Care Utilization After Craniotomy: A 3-Year Assessment. Neurosurgery Ruiz Colón, G. D., Ohkuma, R., Pendharkar, A. V., Heifets, B. D., Li, G., Lu, A., Gephart, M. H., Ratliff, J. K. 2023


    Craniotomy patients have traditionally received intensive care unit (ICU) care postoperatively. Our institution developed the "Non-Intensive CarE" (NICE) protocol to identify craniotomy patients who did not require postoperative ICU care.To determine the longitudinal impact of the NICE protocol on postoperative length of stay (LOS), ICU utilization, readmissions, and complications.In this retrospective cohort study, our institution's electronic medical record was queried to identify craniotomies before protocol deployment (May 2014-May 2018) and after deployment (May 2018-December 2021). The primary end points were average postoperative LOS and ICU utilization; secondary end points included readmissions, reoperation, and postoperative complications rate. End points were compared between pre- and postintervention cohorts.Four thousand eight hundred thirty-seven craniotomies were performed from May 2014 to December 2021 (2302 preprotocol and 2535 postprotocol). Twenty-one percent of postprotocol craniotomies were enrolled in the NICE protocol. After protocol deployment, the overall postoperative LOS decreased from 4.0 to 3.5 days (P = .0031), which was driven by deceased postoperative LOS among protocol patients (average 2.4 days). ICU utilization decreased from 57% of patients to 42% (P < .0001), generating ∼$760 000 in savings. Return to the ICU and complications decreased after protocol deployment. 5.8% of protocol patients had a readmission within 30 days; none could have been prevented through ICU stay.The NICE protocol is an effective, sustainable method to increase ICU bed availability and decrease costs without changing outcomes. To our knowledge, this study features the largest series of patients enrolling in an ICU utilization reduction protocol. Careful patient selection is a requirement for the success of this approach.

    View details for DOI 10.1227/neu.0000000000002337

    View details for PubMedID 36639854

  • Low rates of structured advance care planning documentation in electronic health records: results of a single-center observational study. BMC palliative care Wu, A., Huang, R. J., Colon, G. R., Zembrzuski, C., Patel, C. B. 2022; 21 (1): 203


    BACKGROUND: Proper advance care planning (ACP) documentation both improves patient care and is increasingly seen as a marker of high quality by governmental payers. The transition of most medical documentation to electronic health records (EHR) allows for ACP documents to be rapidly disseminated across diverse ambulatory practice settings. At the same time, the complexity and heterogeneity of the EHR, as well as the multiple potential storage locations for documentation, may lead to confusion and inaccessibility. There has been movement to promote structured ACP (S-ACP) documentation within the EHR.METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study at a single, large university medical center in California to analyze rates of S-ACP documentation. S-ACP was defined as ACP documentation contained in standardized locations, auditable, and not in free-text format. The analytic cohort composed of all patients 65 and older with at least one ambulatory encounter at Stanford Health Care between 2012 and 2020, and without concurrent hospice care. We then analyzed clinic-level, provider-level, insurance, and temporal factors associated with S-ACP documentation rate.RESULTS: Of 187,316unique outpatient encounters between 2012 and 2020, only 7,902 (4.2%) contained S-ACP documentation in the EHR. The most common methods of S-ACP documentation were through problem list diagnoses (3,802; 40.3%) and scanned documents (3,791; 40.0%). At the clinic level, marked variability in S-ACP documentation was observed, with Senior Care (46.6%) and Palliative Care (25.0%) demonstrating highest rates. There was a temporal trend toward increased S-ACP documentation rate (p<0.001).CONCLUSION: This retrospective, single-center study reveals a low rate of S-ACP documentation irrespective of clinic and specialty. While S-ACP documentation rate should not be construed as a proxy for ACP documentation rate, it nonetheless serves as an important quality metric which may be reported to payers. This study highlights the need to both centralize and standardize reporting of ACP documentation in complex EHR systems.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s12904-022-01099-9

    View details for PubMedID 36419072

  • Increased utilization of healthcare services in children with craniosynostosis. Journal of neurosurgery. Pediatrics Ruiz Colón, G. D., Jin, M. C., Grant, G. A., Prolo, L. M. 2022: 1-8


    Craniosynostosis is characterized by the premature fusion of at least one cranial suture. Although evidence suggests that patients with both syndromic and nonsyndromic craniosynostosis may benefit from developmental, behavioral, and mental health support, data on utilization of healthcare services are lacking. In this study the authors compared utilization of mental health care, rehabilitation therapies, and other specialty medical services among children with craniosynostosis, children with plagiocephaly, and healthy controls.The Optum Clinformatics Data Mart database was queried to identify 1340 patients with craniosynostosis, of whom 200 had syndromic craniosynostosis. Long-term utilization of mental health care, rehabilitation therapies, and other medical services up to the age of 6 years was calculated. Rates of utilization were compared to healthy controls (n = 1577) and children with plagiocephaly (n = 1249).Patients with syndromic and nonsyndromic craniosynostosis used mental health care, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and other medical services at similar rates (p = 0.1198, p > 0.9999, p = 0.1097, and p = 0.8119, respectively). Mental health services were used more frequently by patients with craniosynostosis (11.0% in patients with syndromic craniosynostosis and 7.5% in those with nonsyndromic craniosynostosis) compared to patients in the plagiocephaly (5.0%, p = 0.0020) and healthy control (2.9%, p < 0.0001) cohorts. Rehabilitation therapies were more frequently used by patients with syndromic craniosynostosis and plagiocephaly (16.0% and 14.1%, respectively), which was significantly higher than use by healthy controls (p < 0.0001). Other medical subspecialty services (developmental pediatrics, ophthalmology, optometry, and audiology) were used by 37.0% of patients with craniosynostosis, compared with 20.9% (p < 0.0001) and 15.1% (p < 0.0001) of patients with plagiocephaly and healthy controls, respectively. Among patients with craniosynostosis, utilization did not differ by race or household income, but it was not uniform by age. Whereas ophthalmology utilization did not differ by age (p = 0.1003), mental health care was most commonly used among older children (p = 0.0107).In this study, the authors demonstrate that rates of utilization of mental health care, rehabilitation therapies, and other medical subspecialty services are similar between patients with syndromic and those with nonsyndromic craniosynostosis, but higher than in healthy controls. Although surgical correction may be considered an isolated event, providers and parents need to monitor all children with craniosynostosis-syndromic and nonsyndromic-for developmental and mental health support longitudinally. Future work should explore risk factors driving utilization, including suture involvement, repair type, and comorbidities.

    View details for DOI 10.3171/2022.2.PEDS2253

    View details for PubMedID 35426826

  • Development of an Integrated Risk Scale for Prediction of Shunt Placement After Neonatal Intraventricular Hemorrhage Jin, M. C., Parker, J. J., Rodrigues, A., Colon, G. R., Garcia, C. A., Mahaney, K. B., Grant, G. A., Prolo, L. M. OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC. 2022: 37-38
  • Quality of Life and Role of Palliative and Supportive Care for Patients With Brain Metastases and Caregivers: A Review Frontiers in Neurology Wu, A., Ruiz Colon, G. D., Lim, M. 2022; 13
  • Assessment of level of care recommendations and nursing acuity scores following an appropriateness of care intervention BMJ Open Quality Ruiz Colon, G., Sullivan, K., Albaniel, M., Britt, P., Shieh, L. 2022
  • Development of an integrated risk scale for prediction of shunt placement after neonatal intraventricular hemorrhage. Journal of neurosurgery. Pediatrics Jin, M. C., Parker, J. J., Rodrigues, A. J., Ruiz Colón, G. D., Garcia, C. A., Mahaney, K. B., Grant, G. A., Prolo, L. M. 2022: 1-10


    Neonatal intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) is a major cause of mortality and morbidity, particularly following premature birth. Even after the acute phase, posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus is a long-term complication, frequently requiring permanent ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) placement. Currently, there are no risk classification methods integrating the constellation of clinical data to predict short- and long-term prognosis in neonatal IVH. To address this need, the authors developed a two-part machine learning approach for predicting short- and long-term outcomes after diagnosis of neonatal IVH. Integrating both maternal and neonatal characteristics, they developed a binary classifier to predict short-term mortality risk and a clinical scale to predict the long-term risk of VPS placement.Neonates with IVH were identified from the Optum Clinformatics Data Mart administrative claims database. Matched maternal and childbirth characteristics were obtained for all patients. The primary endpoints of interest were short-term (30 day) mortality and long-term VPS placement. Classification of short-term mortality risk was evaluated using 5 different machine learning approaches and the best-performing method was validated using a withheld validation subset. Prediction of long-term shunt risk was performed using a multivariable Cox regression model with stepwise variable selection, which was subsequently converted to an easily applied integer risk scale.A total of 5926 neonates with IVH were identified. Most patients were born before 32 weeks' gestation (67.2%) and with low birth weight (81.2%). Empirical 30-day mortality risk was 10.9% across all IVH grades and highest among grade IV IVH (34.3%). Among the neonates who survived > 30 days, actuarial 12-month postdiagnosis risk of shunt placement was 5.4% across all IVH grades and 31.3% for grade IV IVH. The optimal short-term risk classifier was a random forest model achieving an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.882 with important predictors ranging from gestational age to diverse comorbid medical conditions. Selected features for long-term shunt risk stratification were IVH grade, respiratory distress syndrome, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and maternal preeclampsia or eclampsia. An integer risk scale, termed the Shunt Prediction After IVH in Neonates (SPAIN) scale, was developed from these 4 features, which, evaluated on withheld cases, demonstrated improved risk stratification compared with IVH grade alone (Harrell's concordance index 0.869 vs 0.852).In a large cohort of neonates with IVH, the authors developed a two-pronged, integrated, risk classification approach to anticipate short-term mortality and long-term shunt risk. The application of such approaches may improve the prognostication of outcomes and identification of higher-risk individuals who warrant careful surveillance and early intervention.

    View details for DOI 10.3171/2021.11.PEDS21390

    View details for PubMedID 35090135

  • Physicians Leading Physicians: A Physician Engagement Intervention Decreases Inappropriate Use of IICU Level of Care Accommodations. American journal of medical quality : the official journal of the American College of Medical Quality Ruiz Colón, G. n., Yang, J. n., Svec, D. n., Heidenreich, P. n., Britt, P. n., Smith, M. n., Sharp, C. n., Shieh, L. n. 2021


    Following the adoption of an acuity-adaptable unit model in an academic medical center, a $13M increase in cost of intermediate intensive care unit (IICU) accommodations was observed. The authors followed A3 methodology to determine the root cause of this increase and developed a 3-prong intervention centered on physician engagement, given that physicians have the ability to order a patient's level of care. This intervention consisted of: (1) identifying physician champions to promote appropriate IICU use, (2) visual changes to essential electronic medical record tools, and (3) data-driven feedback to physician champions. In the year following intervention deployment, average IICU length of stay decreased from 1.08 to 0.62 days and average IICU use decreased from 21.4% to 12.3%, corresponding to ~$5.7M cost savings with no significant change in balancing measures observed. Together, these results demonstrate that a multicomponent intervention aimed at engaging physicians reduced inappropriate IICU use with no increase in adverse events.

    View details for DOI 10.1097/01.JMQ.0000735480.43566.f9

    View details for PubMedID 33883423

  • Palliative Care Service Utilization and Advance Care Planning for Adult Glioblastoma Patients: A Systematic Review Cancers Wu, A., Ruiz Colón, G., Aslakson, R., Pollom, E., Patel, C. 2021; 13 (12)


    Glioblastoma (GBM) has a median overall survival of 16-21 months. As patients with GBM suffer concurrently from terminal cancer and a disease with progressive neurocognitive decline, advance care planning (ACP) and palliative care (PC) are critical. We conducted a systematic review exploring published literature on the prevalence of ACP, end-of-life (EOL) services utilization (including PC services), and experiences among adults with GBM. We searched from database inception until 20 December 2020. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews guidelines were followed. Included studies were assessed for quality using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. The 16 articles were all nonrandomized studies conducted in six countries with all but two published in 2014 or later. ACP documentation varied from 4-55%, PC referral was pursued in 39-40% of cases, and hospice referrals were made for 66-76% of patients. Hospitalizations frequently occurred at the EOL with 20-56% of patients spending over 25% of their overall survival time hospitalized. Many GBM patients do not pursue ACP or have access to PC. There is a dearth of focused and high-quality studies on ACP, PC, and hospice use among adults with GBM. Prospective studies that address these and additional aspects related to EOL care, such as healthcare costs and inpatient supportive care needs, are needed.

    View details for DOI 10.3390/cancers13122867

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8228109

  • The COVID-19 Pandemic as an Opportunity for Operational Innovation at 2 Student-Run Free Clinics. Journal of primary care & community health Ruiz Colón, G. D., Mulaney, B. n., Reed, R. E., Ha, S. K., Yuan, V. n., Liu, X. n., Cao, S. n., Ambati, V. S., Hernandez, B. n., Cáceres, W. n., Charon, M. n., Singh, B. n. ; 12: 2150132721993631


    The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent county shelter-in-place order forced the Cardinal Free Clinics (CFCs), Stanford University's 2 student-run free clinics, to close in March 2020. As student-run free clinics adhering to university-guided COVID policies, we have not been able to see patients in person since March of 2020. However, the closure of our in-person operations provided our student management team with an opportunity to innovate. In consultation with Stanford's Telehealth team and educators, we rapidly developed a telehealth clinic model for our patients. We adapted available telehealth guidelines to meet our patient care needs and educational objectives, which manifested in 3 key innovations: reconfigured clinic operations, an evidence-based social needs screen to more effectively assess and address social needs alongside medical needs, and a new telehealth training module for student volunteers. After 6 months of piloting our telehealth services, we believe that these changes have made our services and operations more robust and provided benefit to both our patients and volunteers. Despite an uncertain and evolving public health landscape, we are confident that these developments will strengthen the future operations of the CFCs.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/2150132721993631

    View details for PubMedID 33615883