OBJECTIVE: External ventricular drain (EVD) placement is life-saving procedure performed frequently by neurosurgical residents. The "July Effect" is a theoretical decline in quality of healthcare sometimes perceived in teaching hospitals at the start of an academic year. We sought to quantify the learning curve of ventriculostomy drain placement in teaching hospitals and determine its impact on patient outcomes, healthcare utilization, and cost.
METHODS: The National Inpatient Sample was queried for patients admitted non-electively between 2012-2015 requiring EVD placement at a teaching hospital determined by using ICD-9 codes. Rates of multiple EVD placements per admission, infection and hemorrhage, mortality rate, length and cost of hospital stay, and discharge disposition were compared between admissions in the first quarter of an academic year (July-September) vs those in the fourth quarter (April-June).
RESULTS: 7,783 admissions met inclusion criteria (3901 in Q1 and 3882 in Q4). The odds ratios for all combined complications, mortality, and long-term care disposition were similar between Q1 and Q4 groups. There was a significant reduction in the OR of wound and infectious complications in Q1 versus Q4 (1.60% vs 2.31%, odds ratio 0.66, p=0.01). The impact of Q1 EVD placement on total hospital charge and number of EVD codes were not statistically. However, there was a statistically significant reduction in length of stay in Q1 compared to the Q4 (beta=-0.04 days, p<0.0001) CONCLUSION: There was no evidence of a "July Effect" on EVD complication rates in outcomes for patients admitted in the beginning of an academic year versus the end.