Dr. Richard Vazquez on his patient-focused app to improve the surgical safety process and more

Richard Vazquez, MD, is a private practice general surgeon and an assistant clinical professor of surgery at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. He along with George Cybulski, MD, have designed SafeStart.

SafeStart is a safety solution that modernizes and extends the surgical safety process. It brings together patients, nurses, physicians and facility and allows them to develop a surgical safety process together. The use of the SafeStart patient portal can improve patient safety by decreasing the risk or occurrence of never events.

Question: What is SafeStart and how does it work?

Dr. Richard Vazquez: What we have done out of necessity is we have reengineered the surgical safety process to decrease case cancellations and delays for the facility, improve patient safety and patient satisfaction with the surgical safety process, decrease risk for all stakeholders.

Normally the surgical safety process starts in the preop area. When you're a patient, you're sitting there frequently cold and anxious with the curtains drawn and they're getting you ready to go into the operating room.

What we've done is we started the surgical process at the intake visit with the surgeon in the surgeon's office and we enhanced the workflow and the surgical safety process.

We take a patient's customized safety checklist that is photo and text rich, and we send it to our secure cloud server and we invite the patient to customize that information that the surgeons and nurses will use in their final check list in the operating room. Patients verify or reject all of the intake information and surgical consent.

That same information follows the patient area to the pre-op area, and from the pre-op area it follows the patient to the operating room. The patient actually gets a chance to participate in the surgical safety process.

Q: Why is phlebology and endovenous treatment of chronic venous insufficiency so important to you?

RV: My interest in phlebology (venous disorders) dates back to the 1980’s.

I was a member of the Chicago Medical Society Medical Practice Committee.

I was dispatched to learn about the validity of treating venous disease with injections (sclerotherapy). Sclerotherapy is a legitimate and acceptable method of treating varicose veins. Vein stripping was the surgical alternative.

I was fortunate to be able to work with John Bergan, MD, a renowned expert who taught me sclerotherapy and refinements in vein surgery.

The disruptive technology known as endovenous radiofrequency venous ablation was introduced by VNUS technology in 1999. The EVTA soon became the industry standard for treating the major superficial veins which cause varicose veins and could previously be treated in the main by surgery under general anesthesia or by sclerotherapy with less success.

Today, ablations done with radiofrequency energy are done under local anesthesia in an office not operating room setting. I found the procedure, its adjunct procedures such as vascular ultrasound examinations appealing since they afforded reasonable reimbursement and permitted surgical autonomy. I underwrote many of the general surgical procedures for which reimbursement was decreasing with the vein work.

I eventually was credentialed as a registered vascular technician and registered physician in vascular interpretation in 2009.

Learn more from Dr. Vazquez at the 15th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference + The Future of Spine in June 2017! Click here for more information.

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