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Testing proposed quality measures for treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome: feasibility, magnitude of quality gaps, and reliability.

Harris AHS, Meerwijk EL, Ding Q, Trickey AW, Finlay AK, Schmidt EM, Curtin CM, Sears ED, Nuckols TK, Kamal RN. Testing proposed quality measures for treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome: feasibility, magnitude of quality gaps, and reliability. BMC health services research. 2020 Sep 11; 20(1):861.

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BACKGROUND: The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American Society for Surgery of the Hand recently proposed three quality measures for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS): Measure 1 - Discouraging routine use of Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for diagnosis of CTS; Measure 2 - Discouraging the use of adjunctive surgical procedures during carpal tunnel release (CTR); and Measure 3 - Discouraging the routine use of occupational and/or physical therapy after CTR. The goal of this study were to 1) Assess the feasibility of using the specifications to calculate the measures in real-world healthcare data and identify aspects of the specifications that might be clarified or improved; 2) Determine if the measures identify important variation in treatment quality that justifies expending resources for their further development and implementation; 3) Assess the facility- and surgeon-level reliability of measures. METHODS: The measures were calculated using national data from the Veterans Health Administration (VA) Corporate Data Warehouse for three fiscal years (FY; 2016-18). Facility- and surgeon-level performance and reliability were examined. To expand the testing context, the measures were also tested using data from an academic medical center. RESULTS: The denominator of Measure 1 was 132,049 VA patients newly diagnosed with CTS. The denominators of Measures 2 and 3 were 20,813 CTRs received by VA patients. The median facility-level performances on the three measures were 96.5, 100, and 94.7%, respectively. Of 130 VA facilities, none had < 90% performance on Measure 1. Among 111 facilities that performed CTRs, only 1 facility had < 90% performance on Measure 2. In contrast, 21 facilities (18.9%) and 333 surgeons (17.8%) had lower than 90% performance on Measure 3 (Median facility- and surgeon-level reliability for Measure 3 were very high (0.95 and 0.96 respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Measure 3 displayed adequate facility- and surgeon-level variability and reliability to justify its use for quality monitoring and improvement purposes. Measures 1 and 2 lacked quality gaps, suggesting they should not be implemented in VA and need to be tested in other healthcare settings. Opportunities exist to refine the specifications of Measure 3 to ensure that different organizations calculate the measure in the same way.

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