Clara N Lee

Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (16)60.71 Total impact

  • Plastic and reconstructive surgery 08/2013; 132(2):317e-8e. · 2.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In many developing countries, including those of sub-Saharan Africa, care of the critically ill is poorly developed. We sought to elucidate the characteristics and outcomes of critically ill patients in order to better define the burden of disease and identify strategies for improving care. We conducted a cross sectional observation study of patients admitted to the intensive care unit at Kamuzu Central Hospital in 2010. Demographics, patient characteristics, clinical specialty and outcome data was collected for the 234 patients admitted during the study period. Older age and admission from trauma, general surgery or medical services were associated with increased mortality. The lowest mortality was among obstetrical and gynaecology patients. Use of the ventilator and transfusions were not associated with increased mortality. Patients with head injuries had the highest mortality rate. Rationing of critical care resources, using admitting diagnosis or scoring tools, can maximize access to critical care services in resource-limited settings. Furthermore, improvements of critical care services will be central to future efforts to reduce surgical morbidity and mortality and improving outcomes in all critically ill patients.
    Tropical Doctor 03/2013; · 0.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this paper is to examine the acceptability, feasibility, reliability and validity of a new decision quality instrument that assesses the extent to which patients are informed and receive treatments that match their goals. Cross-sectional mail survey of recent breast cancer survivors, providers and healthy controls and a retest survey of survivors. The decision quality instrument includes knowledge questions and a set of goals, and results in two scores: a breast cancer surgery knowledge score and a concordance score, which reflects the percentage of patients who received treatments that match their goals. Hypotheses related to acceptability, feasibility, discriminant validity, content validity, predictive validity and retest reliability of the survey instrument were examined. We had responses from 440 eligible patients, 88 providers and 35 healthy controls. The decision quality instrument was feasible to implement in this study, with low missing data. The knowledge score had good retest reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient=0.70) and discriminated between providers and patients (mean difference 35%, p<0.001). The majority of providers felt that the knowledge items covered content that was essential for the decision. Five of the 6 treatment goals met targets for content validity. The five goals had moderate to strong retest reliability (0.64 to 0.87). The concordance score was 89%, indicating that a majority had treatments concordant with that predicted by their goals. Patients who had concordant treatment had similar levels of confidence and regret as those who did not. The decision quality instrument met the criteria of feasibility, reliability, discriminant and content validity in this sample. Additional research to examine performance of the instrument in prospective studies and more diverse populations is needed.
    BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 06/2012; 12:51. · 1.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There has been a trend toward limiting perioperative prophylactic antibiotics, based on research not conducted in plastic surgery patients. The authors' university hospital instituted antibiotic prescribing guidelines based on the Surgical Care Improvement Project. An increased rate of surgical-site infections was noted in breast reconstruction patients. The authors sought to determine whether the change in antibiotic prophylaxis regimen affected rates of surgical-site infections. A retrospective study compared patients undergoing breast reconstruction who received preoperative and postoperative prophylactic antibiotics with a group who received only a single dose of preoperative antibiotic. Type of reconstruction and known risk factors for implant infection were noted. Two hundred fifty patients were included: 116 in the pre-Surgical Care Improvement Project group and 134 in the Surgical Care Improvement Project group. The overall rate of surgical-site infections increased from 18.1 percent to 34.3 percent (p = 0.004). Infections requiring reoperation increased from 4.3 percent to 16.4 percent (p = 0.002). Multivariate logistic regression demonstrated that patients in the Surgical Care Improvement group were 4.74 times more likely to develop a surgical-site infection requiring reoperation (95 percent CI, 1.69 to 13.80). Obesity, history of radiation therapy, and reconstruction with tissue expanders were associated with increased rates of surgical-site infection requiring reoperation. Withholding postoperative prophylactic antibiotics in prosthetic breast reconstruction is associated with an increased risk of surgical-site infection, reoperation, and thus reconstructive failure. The optimal duration of postoperative prophylactic antibiotic use is the subject of future study.
    Plastic and reconstructive surgery 05/2012; 130(3):495-502. · 2.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Restoration of form and function after burn injury remains challenging, but emerging laser and pulsed light technologies now offer hope for patients with hypertrophic scars, which may be associated with persistent hyperemia, chronic folliculitis, intense pruritis, and neuropathic pain. In addition to impairing body image, these scars may limit functional recovery, compromise activities of daily living, and prevent return to work. Three different platforms are now poised to alter our reconstructive algorithm: (1) vascular-specific pulsed dye laser (PDL) to reduce hyperemia, (2) ablative fractional CO(2) laser to improve texture and pliability of the burn scar, and (3) intense pulsed light (IPL) to correct burn scar dyschromia and alleviate chronic folliculitis. In this paper, we will provide an overview of our work in this area, which includes a systematic review, a retrospective analysis of our preliminary experience, and interim data from our on-going, prospective, before-after cohort trial. We will demonstrate that laser- and light-based therapies can be combined with each other safely to yield superior results, often at lower cost, by reducing the need for reconstructive surgery. Modulating the burn scar, through minimally invasive modalities, may replace conventional methods of burn scar excision and yield outcomes not previously possible or conceivable.
    Dermatology Research and Practice 01/2012; 2012:243651.
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    ABSTRACT: Road traffic injuries are a major cause of preventable death in sub-Saharan Africa. Accurate epidemiologic data are scarce and under-reporting from primary data sources is common. Our objectives were to estimate the incidence of road traffic deaths in Malawi using capture-recapture statistical analysis and determine what future efforts will best improve upon this estimate. Our capture-recapture model combined primary data from both police and hospital-based registries over a one year period (July 2008 to June 2009). The mortality incidences from the primary data sources were 0.075 and 0.051 deaths/1000 person-years, respectively. Using capture-recapture analysis, the combined incidence of road traffic deaths ranged 0.192-0.209 deaths/1000 person-years. Additionally, police data were more likely to include victims who were male, drivers or pedestrians, and victims from incidents with greater than one vehicle involved. We concluded that capture-recapture analysis is a good tool to estimate the incidence of road traffic deaths, and that capture-recapture analysis overcomes limitations of incomplete data sources. The World Health Organization estimated incidence of road traffic deaths for Malawi utilizing a binomial regression model and survey data and found a similar estimate despite strikingly different methods, suggesting both approaches are valid. Further research should seek to improve capture-recapture data through utilization of more than two data sources and improving accuracy of matches by minimizing missing data, application of geographic information systems, and use of names and civil registration numbers if available.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(2):e31091. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Practice variation in breast cancer surgery has raised concerns about the quality of treatment decisions. We sought to evaluate the quality of decisions about surgery for early-stage breast cancer by measuring patient knowledge, concordance between goals and treatments, and involvement in decisions. A mailed survey of stage I/II breast cancer survivors was conducted at 4 sites. The Decision Quality Instrument measured knowledge, goals, and involvement in decisions. A multivariable logistic regression model of treatment was developed. The model-predicted probability of mastectomy was compared with treatment received for each patient. Concordance was defined as having mastectomy and predicted probability >0.5 or partial mastectomy and predicted probability <0.5. Frequency of discussion about partial mastectomy was compared with discussion about mastectomy using chi-square tests. Four hundred and forty patients participated (59% response rate). Mean overall knowledge was 52.7%; 45.9% knew that local recurrence risk is higher after breast conservation and 55.7% knew that survival is equivalent for the 2 options. Most participants (89.0%) had treatment concordant with their goals. Participants preferring mastectomy had lower concordance (80.5%) than those preferring partial mastectomy (92.6%; p = 0.001). Participants reported more frequent discussion of partial mastectomy and its advantages than of mastectomy, and 48.6% reported being asked their preference. Breast cancer survivors had major knowledge deficits, and those preferring mastectomy were less likely to have treatment concordant with goals. Patients perceived that discussions focused on partial mastectomy, and many were not asked their preference. Improvements in the quality of decisions about breast cancer surgery are needed.
    Journal of the American College of Surgeons 11/2011; 214(1):1-10. · 4.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Variation in rates of breast reconstruction after mastectomy has raised concerns about the quality of decisions about reconstruction. The authors sought to evaluate patient decision making about reconstruction, using a validated measure of knowledge and preferences related to reconstruction. A cross-sectional survey of early-stage breast cancer survivors from four university medical centers was conducted. The survey included measures of knowledge about specific reconstruction facts, personal goals and concerns, and involvement in decision making. A multivariable linear regression model of characteristics associated with knowledge and a logistic regression model of factors associated with having reconstruction were developed. A total of 84 patients participated (59 percent response rate). Participants answered 37.9 percent of knowledge questions correctly. Higher education (beta, 15 percent; p = 0.003) and having reconstruction (beta, 21 percent; p < 0.0001) were associated with higher knowledge. The goals "use your own tissue to make a breast" (odds ratio, 1.53; 95 percent CI, 1.15, 2.05) and "wake up after mastectomy with reconstruction underway" (odds ratio, 1.66; 95 percent CI, 1.30, 2.12) were associated with reconstruction. The goal "avoid putting foreign material in your body" was associated with no reconstruction (odds ratio, 0.64; 95 percent CI, 0.48, 0.86). Most patients reported they mainly made the decision or made the decision with the doctor equally (93 percent; 95 percent CI, 85 to 97 percent) and that their degree of involvement was about right (85 percent; 95 percent CI, 75 to 91 percent). Women treated with mastectomy in this study were not well-informed about breast reconstruction. Treatments were associated with patients' goals and concerns, however, and patients were highly involved in their decisions. Knowledge deficits suggest that breast cancer patients would benefit from interventions to support their decision making.
    Plastic and reconstructive surgery 01/2011; 127(1):18-26. · 2.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An abstract is unavailable. This article is available as HTML full text and PDF.
    Plastic &amp Reconstructive Surgery 09/2010; 126:21. · 3.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Women with early-stage breast cancer face a multitude of decisions. The quality of a decision can be measured by the extent to which the treatment reflects what is most important to an informed patient. Reliable and valid measures of patients' knowledge and their goals and concerns related to breast cancer treatments are needed to assess the decision quality. To identify a set of key facts and goals relevant to each of three breast cancer treatment decisions (surgery, reconstruction and adjuvant chemotherapy and hormone therapy) and to evaluate the validity of the methods used to identify them. Candidate facts and goals were chosen based on evidence review and qualitative studies with breast cancer patients and providers. Cross-sectional surveys of patients and providers were conducted for each decision. The accuracy, importance and completeness of the items were examined. Thirty-eight facts (11-14 per decision) and 27 goals (8-10 per decision) were identified. An average of 17 patients and 21 providers responded to each survey. The sets of facts were accurate and complete for all three decisions. The sets of goals and concerns were important for surgery and reconstruction, but not chemotherapy/hormone therapy. Patients and providers disagreed about the relative importance of several key facts and goals. Overall, breast cancer patients and providers found the sets of facts and goals accurate, important and complete for three treatment decisions. Because patients' and providers' perspectives are different, it is vital that instrument development should include items reflecting both views.
    Health expectations: an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy 09/2010; 13(3):258-72. · 1.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study assesses the usefulness of the omentum in the reconstruction of complex perineal defects, following abdominoperineal resection or pelvic exenteration, for anorectal malignancy. Between 2000 and 2008, 70 patients (mean age: 59 years) with anorectal malignancy underwent abdominoperineal resection (n = 57) or pelvic exenteration (n = 13) and were reconstructed by primary repair alone (n = 13), primary repair with omentum (n = 16), myocutaneous flap alone (n = 28), or myocutaneous flap with omentum (n = 13). Patients with and without omental flaps were compared by Student t test and chi2 analysis. Omental flaps were based on a single pedicle, tunneled in the retrocolic plane lateral to the ligament of Treitz, and transposed across the sacrum to the pelvic floor. In total, 29 patients had pelvic floor and perineal reconstruction with the omentum, and 41 patients had reconstruction without the omentum. Incidence of major pelvic complications (abscess, urinoma, deep vein thrombosis, flap dehiscence, hernia, bowel obstruction, fistula) was greater in the "no omentum" group (25/41 patients, 61%), compared with the "omentum" group (6/29 patients, 21%) (P < 0.01). No differences were observed regarding age, stage, incidence of radiotherapy, blood loss, length of stay, or mortality. Use of the omentum as a primary flap, or in combination with a myocutaneous flap, in the reconstruction of complex perineal defects, is associated with a decreased incidence of postoperative complications, strongly supporting the use of the omentum in pelvic floor reconstruction.
    Annals of plastic surgery 05/2010; 64(5):559-62. · 1.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Decisions about breast reconstruction after mastectomy are some of the most difficult decisions a breast cancer patient makes. To make a good decision, the patient should have adequate knowledge of specific facts related to the decision, and the treatment chosen should be consistent with the patient's personal preferences or goals. We sought to identify the most important facts and goals for decisions about breast reconstruction after mastectomy, and to compare patients' and providers' perspectives. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of breast cancer survivors and providers. Participants rated and ranked the importance of facts and goals/concerns related to breast reconstruction after mastectomy. We compared patients' and providers' rankings using chi2 tests and compared ratings using t-tests. About 21 patients and 20 providers participated. Facts: Providers were more concerned about the impact of radiation on the success of the reconstruction than patients (60% vs. 24%, 95% CI of the difference: -64, -8). Thirty percent of providers placed the fact that women who do not have reconstruction are equally satisfied as women who have reconstruction in the top 3, whereas almost no patients did (30% vs. 5%, 95% CI: -47, -3). For all 3 of the facts about immediate versus delayed reconstruction, women placed a higher priority on these facts than providers did. Goals: Patients placed greater importance on avoiding use of a prosthesis (33% vs. 0%, 95% CI of the difference: 13, 54). There was a trend toward less patient concern about "looking natural without clothes" compared to providers (24% vs. 40%, 95% CI of the difference: -12, 44). Significant variability exists among patients and between patients and providers, with respect to the most important facts and goals to guide decision making about reconstruction. Providers should ensure that women understand that reconstruction can be performed immediately or delayed, as well as the likelihood and type of complications. Surgeons should ask each woman which goals and concerns are most important to her. Specifically, they should inquire as to how women feel about using a prosthesis, and how they feel about their appearance with and without clothes.
    Annals of plastic surgery 05/2010; 64(5):563-6. · 1.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Injury is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries. Utilizing a partnership between Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) and the University of North Carolina Departments of Surgery, we describe an approach to injury surveillance, examine the utility of trauma scoring systems, and outline steps necessary before such scoring systems can be reliably instituted in a resource-constrained setting.
    Tropical Doctor 04/2010; 40(2):98-9. · 0.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Discussions about breast reconstruction should include factual information and consideration of the patient's personal concerns. Providers are familiar with the relevant facts but may not know which personal concerns are important to patients. Experience with breast cancer patients has found that providers frequently do not know their patients' treatment preferences. To help reconstructive surgeons discuss personal preferences with their patients, we sought to identify women's key concerns related to breast reconstruction. We employed a qualitative design and convened a sample of 65 women in 7 focus groups and 15 semi-structured interviews. Women with a recent history of early-stage breast cancer who had a mastectomy with or without reconstruction were included. A variety of backgrounds, including underserved populations, low education levels, and various ages were represented. Qualitative content analysis was performed, and key themes were identified. Five key themes emerged. (1) Magnitude of surgery and recovery. Many women reported that concerns over the number of operations, duration of recovery, and risk of complications strongly affected their decision-making. (2) Using one's own tissue. Several women felt comforted by the notion of using their own tissue for reconstruction. (3) Looking natural in clothing. Many women pointed out the difference between how they look in clothing versus how they look naked. (4) Avoiding an external prosthesis. Several women stressed practical concerns and framed the reconstruction decision in terms of not having to use prosthesis. (5) Considering others' opinions. A few women reported that their partners' opinion strongly influenced their decision. Many women stated that they ultimately followed their doctor's recommendation. Women considering reconstruction have some unmet emotional and physical needs as well as important goals and concerns that can affect their decisions about and experience with reconstruction. In particular, some breast cancer patients are unprepared for the full effect of surgery on their lives and for the recovery process. Discussions about reconstruction would benefit from inclusion of these key concerns.
    Annals of plastic surgery 03/2010; 64(5):567-9. · 1.29 Impact Factor
  • Clara N Lee, Clifford Y Ko
    JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association 10/2009; 302(14):1580-1. · 29.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Injury surveillance is an ongoing process required for primary, secondary, and tertiary injury prevention. In Malawi, hospital-based injury data are not available. From February to June 2008 we collected data on injured patients presenting to Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi. The sample (n = 1,474) was predominantly male (75.7%), and age distribution was bimodal (peak age groups <5 years and 26-30 years). Road-traffic injury (RTI) was the most common reason for treatment (43.4%), followed by assault (24.0%), which was more common than expected. The most common injuries were lacerations, contusions, and abrasions. We observed both gender- and age-specific patterns in injury mechanism: Injured females were more likely than injured males to have suffered an injury as a passenger in a car or on a bicycle, or to have suffered from falls, foreign bodies, and burns; injured males were more likely than injured females to have suffered an injury as an automobile driver or bicyclist, or from an assault. Falls, burns, and foreign bodies affected younger victims, whereas bicyclists, automobile drivers, and motorcycle operators were generally older persons. The hospital admission rate was 26.8%. Most patients arrived by private vehicle (43.8%), which was also the fastest means of transportation. There were 25 mass casualties leading to 102 admissions; all but one were due to RTIs, and seven were associated with at least one fatality. This study elucidated injury epidemiology in Malawi and identified questions for future research. Other developing countries should conduct such prospective data collection to identify region-specific injury patterns and to promote injury prevention.
    World Journal of Surgery 07/2009; 33(9):1836-41. · 2.23 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

66 Citations
60.71 Total Impact Points


  • 2012
    • Harvard Medical School
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2011
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      • Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
      Chapel Hill, NC, United States