John Ratliff

Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington, Vermont, United States

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Publications (8)35 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Local recurrence (LR) after partial mastectomy (PM) has been associated with inadequate surgical margins. We assessed LR association with initial margins after PM in patients receiving postoperative radiation therapy (RT). Initial margins, re-excision status, and ipsilateral LR were identified for all patients having initial PM from 2003 to 2008. Seven hundred twelve patients underwent PM as their final procedure, and 598 (84.0%) had adjuvant RT. Initial margins were positive or <1-mm margins in 166 patients (27.8%). Re-excision was performed for all positive and 20.2% of patients with margins <1 mm. We observed 10 LRs (1.7%) at the 3.4-year mean follow-up. For patients with initial margins <1 mm, the LR rate was 4.2% (7/167) and just .7% for margins ≥1 mm (P = .006). We report lower LR rates than traditionally reported. The surgical practice of re-excision to achieve margins of 1 to 5 mm needs closer scrutiny because it may have no impact on LR.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2011 · American journal of surgery
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to investigate the 30-day morbidity of a negative laparotomy (NEGLAP) in blunt abdominal trauma. No previous work has exclusively examined blunt abdominal trauma patients, used a control group, or determined the complication burden incurred by a NEGLAP. In this retrospective cohort study of a prospectively maintained database, demographics, Injury Severity Score, Revised Trauma Score (TRISS), hospital length of stay, mortality, and findings at laparotomy (LAP) were analyzed. Patients were assigned to four groups as follows: NEGLAP (n = 28), positive LAP (n = 126), delay to LAP (DELAY, n = 18), and no LAP (NOLAP, n = 427). Complications during hospitalization and 30 days postdischarge were extracted from our complication database and adjusted for severity using a complication scoring system (Complication Impact Score [CIS]). The effect of LAP on the log transformed CIS was assessed using a linear regression model, controlling for age and TRISS. Complications per patient ranged from 1.73 (DELAY) to 0.38 (NOLAP), and the average CIS per patient ranged from 7.29 (NEGLAP) to 1.8 (NOLAP). When controlled for TRISS and age, NEGLAP did not significantly increase the CIS (p = 0.620), whereas positive LAP (p = 0.004) and DELAY (p = 0.034) were associated with a significant increase in CIS. When controlled for TRISS and age, NEGLAP does not increase the complication burden compared with NOLAP. In blunt abdominal trauma patients, operations to establish diagnosis do not add significantly to complication burden.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2010 · The Journal of trauma
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    ABSTRACT: Profiling of hospitals using risk-adjusted mortality rates as a measure of quality is becoming increasingly frequent. We sought to determine the validity of this approach by comparing the risk-adjusted predicted mortality to the findings of concurrent peer review and retrospective chart review of deaths that occur on a general surgery service. Consecutive patients admitted to a busy general surgery service from January 2000 to January 2006 were prospectively entered into the Surgical Activity Tracking System. Rigorous, systematic peer review was performed concurrently by service members on all deaths. Adjudication was later validated by an independent senior surgeon. Three methodologies of risk adjustment (University Health Consortium, Physiological and Operative Severity Score for the enUmeration of Mortality, and the Charlson index) were used and compared the "excess mortality" predicted by each to the number of potentially preventable deaths determined by peer review. A total of 9623 patients were admitted and 75 died (0.7%). University Health Consortium and Physiological and Operative Severity Score predicted an excess mortality of 62 and 65 deaths, respectively; Charlson predicted that 73% of the cohort would be dead in 1 year. Concurrent and retrospective peer review found that death was potentially preventable in only 22 and 21 patients, respectively. Peer adjudication and extensive clinical review adds much to the analysis of an adverse outcome, similar to the "black box" in an airplane crash. Although methods of risk adjustment may be helpful in identifying patients for peer review, they should be used for internal process improvement and not published as metrics of hospital or provider performance.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2010 · Annals of surgery
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the effect of implementation of work hour restrictions on the rates of morbidity, mortality, and provider-related complications in surgical patients and to determine the incremental personnel costs associated with implementation. In 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education enacted resident work hour restrictions (RWHR) to improve patient safety by decreasing errors attributed to resident fatigue. There are no quantitative data on surgical patients to validate whether this objective has been achieved and, if so, at what cost. Retrospective observational cohort analysis of data gathered concurrently with patient care for 30 days after admission or surgical intervention before implementation (prerestriction: July 2001-June 2003) and after (postrestriction: July 2005-June 2007). Main outcome measures: mortality, surgical complications, percentage of complications judged to be provider-related, and incremental personnel costs (salary and fringe of providers). A total of 14,610 patients were admitted during the 2 periods. Compared with the prerestriction period, there was a significant reduction in the percentage of complications attributed to providers (pre: 48.3%; post: 38.6%, P < 0.001) and a significant reduction in mortality rate (pre: 1.9%; post: 1.1%, P = 0.002) in the postrestriction period. Postrestriction the clinical care hours provided by attending surgeons increased significantly and was associated with a 1250% increase in the RVU-82 billing modifier ("no qualified resident available") from 523 RVUs pre-RWHR to 6542 post-RWHR. There was an increase in annual personnel costs postrestriction of $1.466 million. Implementation of RWHR was associated with reduced provider-related complications and mortality suggesting improved patient safety. This was likely due to several factors including reduced resident fatigue and greater attending involvement in clinical care.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2009 · Annals of surgery
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    ABSTRACT: Neoadjuvant systemic therapy (NST) for operable breast cancer can increase the options for conservative surgery in patients with breast cancer. We performed an analysis of a breast cancer outcomes database as a quality assessment of neoadjuvant therapy use in relation to breast conservative rate (BCR). Data were reviewed from a breast cancer database established to monitor outcomes of breast cancer surgery at a tertiary care breast cancer clinic. The frequency of NST-use was correlated to tumor size and BCR. Cause-specific factors for omitting NST in patients undergoing mastectomy for tumors 3 cm or greater were determined. NST was employed in 29 of 241 (12%) cases of invasive breast carcinoma treated surgically from 2003 to 2005. Although a significant decrease in BCR occurred in tumors >3 cm, NST was not frequently employed until tumors reached >5 cm. Defined contraindications to breast conservation (65%) and patient choice for mastectomy (30%) were the two most common reasons for omitting NST in tumors > or = 3 cm. Despite the initial appearance of NST under-utilization in tumors measuring between 3-5 cm, appropriate exclusion of patients not suitable for breast conservation and patient choice for mastectomy both emerged as leading factors for the omission of NST in this group. Use of NST is an important quality metric in optimizing breast conservation. Patient education and greater understanding of patient-related barriers to NST may help improve BCR.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2009 · The Breast Journal
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    ABSTRACT: To identify and quantify surgical outcomes as possible quality measures of initial breast cancer surgery and to assess variation among surgeons. Descriptive analysis of concurrently collected outcome measures. University hospital with a designated breast cancer center. Patients with a preoperative diagnosis of invasive breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ undergoing their initial cancer surgery from April 1, 2003, to March 30, 2008. Eight measures were identified: (1) total mastectomy rate; (2) close (<1 mm) and positive margin rate following initial partial mastectomy; (3) number of operations required in breast conservation; (4) number of nodes obtained from sentinel lymph node biopsy; (5) number of nodes from axillary dissection; (6) proportion of patients with positive sentinel lymph node biopsy undergoing axillary dissection; (7) use of intraoperative lymph node assessment; and (8) time from diagnosis to surgery. Nine hundred ten operations (218 for ductal carcinoma in situ, 692 for invasive breast cancer) were performed by 6 surgeons. Variation existed among surgeons in the combined close and positive margin rate, number of nodes obtained from sentinel lymph node biopsy, and use of intraoperative lymph node assessment. No significant variation was seen for the overall mastectomy rate, mean number of operations, positive margin rate alone, and number of lymph nodes from axillary dissection. Quality indicators for breast cancer surgery can be identified and readily monitored. Outcome variation exists at a high-volume breast center. Further study into the causes and effects of this variation on short- and long-term patient outcomes as well as health care costs is needed.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2009 · Archives of surgery (Chicago, Ill.: 1960)
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    ABSTRACT: There is a national effort to decrease the incidence of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in surgical patients by encouraging compliance with established guidelines for prophylaxis. Reported compliance with these guidelines has been poor. The outcome of noncompliance in terms of morbidity and mortality in surgical patients is unknown. We sought to determine if there has been a decrease in the incidence of symptomatic VTE since implementation of the guidelines and whether there has been compliance with the guidelines in individual patients; we also analyzed the outcome of a cohort with VTE. We reviewed the records of all patients with symptomatic VTE on 3 surgery services over the 10-year period since initial publication of the guidelines. We determined in each patient whether there was compliance with the guidelines. We weighted the morbidity of each episode of VTE based on the likelihood of short-term mortality and long-term morbidity to determine the disease burden. Of 37,615 patients, 172 developed a VTE (0.46%), and the incidence increased gradually over the years of the study. There was partial or complete compliance with the guidelines in 84% of the patients, but 37% of the VTEs were considered to be preventable. The disease burden was greatest in the higher-risk patients-there were 20 deaths (6%), 4 of which were caused by a pulmonary embolus. Despite one of the highest published rates of compliance with the guidelines for prophylaxis, the rate of symptomatic VTE is increasing.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2008 · Surgery
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    ABSTRACT: Information extracted from the hospital discharge data set is used increasingly for outcomes research and for benchmarking hospital and provider performance. The accuracy of these data in detecting vascular complications has never been validated. We compared morbidity and mortality data derived from the hospital discharge data set to similar data recorded concurrently by our Surgical Activity Tracking System (SATS) for 1 year on the vascular surgery service. Of 798 total admissions, no complications were detected by either system in 598 admissions (75%). In 200 admissions (25%), there were 335 complications, including 24 deaths (3.0%), that occurred either in-hospital or within 30 days of the date of operation or the date of discharge for nonoperative admissions. Of the 335 complications, 180 (53.7%) were recorded by both systems; the SATS missed 59 complications recorded in the hospital discharge data set (17.6%), whereas the hospital discharge data set missed 96 complications recorded in the SATS (28.7%, P = .003). Of the 289 in-hospital complications, the SATS recorded 230 (79.5%), whereas the hospital discharge data set recorded 229 (79.2%). Of the 24 deaths, the hospital discharge data set missed 6 that occurred after discharge but within the 30-day reporting period Both systems are not completely accurate for tracking inpatient complications. The SATS was more representative than the hospital discharge data set in capturing 30-day morbidity and mortality. An amalgamation of the 2 systems would provide more optimal tracking of complications.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2007 · Surgery

Publication Stats

149 Citations
35.00 Total Impact Points


  • 2007-2011
    • Fletcher Allen Health Care
      Burlington, Vermont, United States
  • 2010
    • University of Vermont
      • Department of Surgery
      Burlington, Vermont, United States
  • 2008
    • University of Vermont Medical Center
      Burlington, Vermont, United States