Multidisciplinary team approach to traumatic spinal cord injuries: a single institution’s quality improvement project

  • Georgina Alizo
  • Jason D. Sciarretta
  • Stefanie Gibson
  • Keely Muertos
  • Sharon Holmes
  • Felicia Denittis
  • Joseph Cheatle
  • John Davis
  • Antonio Pepe
Original Article



A stepwise multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach to the injured trauma patient has been reported to have an overall benefit, with reduction in mortality and improved morbidity. Based on clinical experience, we hypothesized that implementation of a dedicated Spinal Cord Injury Service (SCIS) would impact outcomes of a patient specific population on the trauma service.


The trauma center registry was retrospectively queried, from January 2011 through December 2015, for patients presenting with a spinal cord injury. In 2013, a twice weekly rounding SCIS MDT was initiated. This new multidisciplinary service, the post-SCIS, was compared to the 2011–2012 pre-SCIS. The two groups were compared across patient demographics, mechanism of injury, surgical procedures, and disposition at discharge. The primary outcome was mortality. Secondary endpoints also included the incidence of complications, hospital length of stay (HLOS), ICU LOS, ventilator free days, and all hospital-acquired infectious complications. Logistic regression and Student’s t test were used to analyze data.


Ninety-five patients were identified. Of these patients, 41 (43%) pre-SCIS and 54 (57%) post-SCIS patients were compared. Mean age was 46.9 years and 79% male. Overall, adjusted mortality rate between the two groups was significant with the implementation of the post-SCIS (p = 0.033). In comparison, the post-SCIS revealed shorter HLOS (23 vs 34.8 days, p = 0.004), increased ventilator free days (20.2 vs 63.3 days, p < 0.001), and less nosocomial infections (1.8 vs 22%, p = 0.002). While the post-SCIS mean ICU LOS was shorter (12 vs 17.9 days, p = 0.089), this relationship was not significant.


The application of an SCIS team in addition to the trauma service suggests that a structured coordinated approach can have an expected improvement in hospital outcomes and shorter length of stays. We believe that this clinical collaboration provides distinct specialist perspectives and, therefore, optimizes quality improvement.

Level of evidence Epidemiologic study, level III.


Spinal cord injury Multidisciplinary Team approach Trauma Performance 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest or funding reported by the above authors: Georgina Alizo MD, Jason D. Sciarretta MD, Stefanie Gibson AS, Keely Muertos MPH, Sharon Holmes BSN, Felicia Denittis PA-C, Joseph Cheatle MD, John Davis MD, and Antonio Pepe MD.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georgina Alizo
    • 1
  • Jason D. Sciarretta
    • 1
  • Stefanie Gibson
    • 1
  • Keely Muertos
    • 1
  • Sharon Holmes
    • 1
  • Felicia Denittis
    • 1
  • Joseph Cheatle
    • 1
  • John Davis
    • 1
  • Antonio Pepe
    • 1
  1. 1.Grand Strand Medical CenterUniversity of South CarolinaMyrtle BeachUSA

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