Quality Measures to Deliver Safe, High-Quality Care on Hand Surgery Outreach Trips to Low and Middle-Income Countries


Journal of Bone Joint Surgery


James Chang

Date Published: April 2021
Training and capacity building
Quality Improvement
Background: The burden of hand surgery in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) is immense and growing. Although outreach trips to LMICs have been increasing, there has remained a gap regarding assessment of quality of care on outreach trips. We developed quality measures to assess hand surgery outreach trips to LMICs.

Methods: We followed the recommendations set forth by the World Health Organization for practice guideline development. We used the results of a systematic review to inform the development of quality measures. Eight hand and upper-extremity surgeons with extensive global outreach experience (mean surgical outreach experience of >15 years, completed >3,000 surgeries in 24 countries) completed a modified RAND/UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) Delphi process to evaluate the importance, the feasibility, the usability, and the scientific acceptability of 83 measures. Validity was defined according to established methods.

Results: A tiering system that was based on the resources available at an outreach site (essential, intermediate, and advanced) was developed to classify the application of the measures since care delivery in LMICs often is constrained by local resources. Twenty-two (27%) of 83 measures were validated. All 22 (100%) were classified as essential (e.g., availability of interpretation services for the visiting team); no measures that were classified as intermediate or advanced were validated.

Conclusions: Field-testing and implementation of quality measures served to identify the safety and the quality of hand surgical care that was provided on outreach trips to LMICs and inform improvement efforts. Tiers of care can be applied to quality measures to incorporate resource and capacity limitations when assessing their performance.

Clinical relevance: Ensuring safety and high-quality care on hand surgical outreach trips to LMICs is foundational to all participating organizations and physicians. Valid quality measures can be implemented by organizations undertaking outreach trips to LMICs.