Publications by authors named "Margaret Ruddy"

7 Publications

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Decontamination effectiveness and the necessity of innovation in a large-scale disaster simulation.

Am J Disaster Med 2021 Winter;16(1):67-73

Associate Professor, Institute of Health Sciences Education and Department of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

Background: Chemical, biological, radiologic, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) events threaten the health and integrity of human populations across the globe. Effective decontamination is a central component of CBRNE disaster response.

Objective: This paper provides an objective determination of wet decontamination effectiveness through the use of a liquid-based contaminant proxy and describes the mobilization and adaptation of easily available materials for the needs of decontamination in pediatric victims.

Methods: In this in-situ disaster simulation conducted at a pediatric hospital, decontamination effectiveness was determined through a liquid-based contaminant proxy, and standard burn charts to systematically estimate affected total body surface area (TBSA) in 39 adult simulated patients. Two independent raters evaluated TBSA covered by the contaminant before and after decontamination.

Results: On average, simulated patients had 59 percent (95 percent CI [53, 65]) of their TBSA covered by the simulated contaminant prior to decontamination. Following a wet decontamination protocol, the average reduction in TBSA contamination was 81 percent (95 percent CI [74, 88]). There was high inter-rater reliability for TBSA assessment (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.83, 95 percent CI [0.68, 0.92]. A modified infant bath was tested during the simulated decontamination of infant mannequins and thereafter integrated to the local protocol.

Conclusion: Wet decontamination can remove more than 80 percent of the initial contaminant found on adult simulated patients. The use of a liquid-based visual tool as a contaminant proxy enables the inexpensive evaluation of decontamination performance in a simulated setting. This paper also describes an innovative, low-cost adaptation of a local decontamination protocol to better meet pediatric needs.
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May 2021

Exploring the experiences of parent caregivers of children with chronic medical complexity during pediatric intensive care unit hospitalization: an interpretive descriptive study.

BMC Pediatr 2019 08 6;19(1):272. Epub 2019 Aug 6.

The Montreal Children's Hospital, McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), 1001 Decarie Boulevard, Montreal, Quebec, H4A 3J1, Canada.

Background: Children with medical complexity (CMC) account for an increasing proportion of pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admissions across North America. Their risk of unscheduled PICU admission is threefold compared to healthy children, and they are at higher risk of prolonged length of stay and PICU mortality. As a result of their sophisticated home care needs, parents typically develop significant expertise in managing their children's symptoms and tending to their complex care needs at home. This can present unique challenges in the PICU, where staff may not take parents' advanced expertise into account when caring for CMC. The study aimed to explore the experiences of parents of CMC during PICU admission.

Methods: This interpretive descriptive study was performed in the PICU of one Canadian, quaternary care pediatric hospital. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 parent caregivers of 14 CMC admitted over a 1-year period.

Results: Parents of CMC expected to continue providing expert care during PICU admission, but felt their knowledge and expertise were not always recognized by staff. They emphasized the importance of parent-staff partnerships. Four themes were identified: (1) "We know our child best;" (2) When expertise collides; (3) Negotiating caregiving boundaries; and (4) The importance of being known. Results support the need for a PICU caregiving approach for CMC that recognizes parent expertise.

Conclusions: Partnership between staff and parents is essential, particularly in the case of CMC, whose parents are themselves skilled caregivers. In addition to enhanced partnerships with health care professionals, needs expressed by parents of CMC during PICU hospitalization included improved communication with staff, and more attention to continuity of care in the PICU and across hospital services. Parent-staff partnerships must be informed by ongoing communication and negotiation of caregiving roles throughout the course of the child's PICU hospitalization.
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August 2019

Potentially Avoidable Hospital Readmissions in Patients With Advanced Cancer.

J Oncol Pract 2019 05 4;15(5):e420-e427. Epub 2019 Apr 4.

1 Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Purpose: Patients with cancer often prefer to avoid time in the hospital; however, data are lacking on the prevalence and predictors of potentially avoidable readmissions (PARs) among those with advanced cancer.

Methods: We enrolled patients with advanced cancer from September 2, 2014, to November 21, 2014, who had an unplanned hospitalization and assessed their patient-reported symptom burden (Edmonton Symptom Assessment System) at the time of admission. For 1 year after enrollment, we reviewed patients' health records to determine the primary reason for every hospital readmission and we classified readmissions as PARs using adapted Graham's criteria. We examined predictors of PARs using nonlinear mixed-effects models with binomial distribution.

Results: We enrolled 200 (86.2%) of 232 patients who were approached. For these 200 patients, we reviewed 277 total hospital readmissions and identified 108 (39.0%) of these as PARs. The most common reasons for PARs were premature discharge from a prior hospitalization (30.6%) and failure of timely follow-up (28.7%). PAR hospitalizations were more likely than non-PAR hospitalizations to experience symptoms as the primary reason for admission (28.7% 13.0%; = .001). We found that married patients were less likely to experience PARs (odds ratio, 0.30; 95% CI, 0.15 to 0.57; < .001) and that those with a higher physical symptom burden were more likely to experience PARs (odds ratio, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.05; = .012).

Conclusion: We observed that a substantial proportion of hospital readmissions are potentially avoidable and found that patients' symptom burdens predict PARs. These findings underscore the need to assess and address the symptom burden of hospitalized patients with advanced cancer in this highly symptomatic population.
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May 2019

Pilot Randomized Trial of a Pharmacy Intervention for Older Adults with Cancer.

Oncologist 2019 02 19;24(2):211-218. Epub 2018 Oct 19.

Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Background: Oncology clinicians often struggle with managing medications and vaccinations in older adults with cancer. We sought to demonstrate the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of integrating pharmacists into the care of older adults with cancer to enhance medication management and vaccination administration.

Methods: We randomly assigned patients aged ≥65 years with breast, gastrointestinal, or lung cancer receiving first-line chemotherapy to the pharmacy intervention or usual care. Patients assigned to the intervention met with a pharmacist once during their second or third chemotherapy infusion. We obtained information about patients' medications and vaccinations via patient report and from the electronic health record (EHR) at baseline and week 4. We determined the number of discrepant (difference between patient report and EHR) and potentially inappropriate (Beers Criteria assessed by nonintervention pharmacists blinded to group assignment) medications. We defined the intervention as feasible if >75% of patients enrolled in the study and received the pharmacist visit.

Results: From January 17, 2017, to October 27, 2017, we enrolled and randomized 60 patients (80.1% of patients approached). Among those assigned to the intervention, 96.6% received the pharmacist visit. At week 4, intervention patients had higher rates of acquiring vaccinations for pneumonia (27.6% vs. 0.0%, = .002) and influenza (27.6% vs. 0.0%, = .002) compared with usual care. Intervention patients had fewer discrepant (5.82 vs. 8.07, = .094) and potentially inappropriate (3.46 vs. 4.80, = .069) medications at week 4, although differences were not significant.

Conclusion: Integrating pharmacists into the care of older adults with cancer is feasible with encouraging preliminary efficacy for enhancing medication management and improving vaccination rates.

Implications For Practice: Results of this study showed the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of an intervention integrating pharmacists into the care of older adults with cancer. Notably, patients assigned to the intervention had fewer discrepant medications and were more likely to acquire vaccinations for pneumonia and influenza. Importantly, this work represents the first randomized controlled trial involving the integration of pharmacists into the outpatient oncologic care of older adults with cancer. In the future, a larger randomized trial is needed to demonstrate the efficacy of this care model to enhance medication management and improve vaccination outcomes for older patients with cancer.
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February 2019

It Takes a Village to Move a Hospital: Simulation Improves Intensive Care Team Preparedness for a Move to a New Site.

Hosp Pediatr 2018 03 15;8(3):148-156. Epub 2018 Feb 15.

Division of Pediatric Critical Care, Department of Pediatrics, The Montreal Children's Hospital, and McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Objectives: To evaluate in-situ simulation to prepare a PICU to move to a new, redesigned unit.

Methods: The study setting is an academic PICU. This is a cross-sectional study using in-situ simulations of common PICU admissions. Postsimulation, participants completed a survey comparing the perception of preparedness pre- and postsimulation (via a 10-point Likert scale). Participants were resurveyed 6 months postmove to assess whether effects persisted. Qualitative data were obtained via thematic review of the survey comment section and from postsimulation debriefing.

Results: Response rates were initially 100% and 67% at the 6-month follow-up. In the initial phase, all questions had statistically significant improvements in post- versus presimulation scores. Participants felt better prepared (presimulation: 6.20, postsimulation: 7.90, < .001) and more confident about caring for real patients (presimulation: 5.49, postsimulation: 7.41, < .001). They felt more comfortable working in the new unit (presimulation: 5.65, postsimulation: 7.50, < .001) and better able to deliver safe care (presimulation: 5.85, postsimulation: 7.60, < .001). Six months postmove, participants still believed that simulation was helpful (7.43, SD: 2.20) and still reported improved team confidence (7.36, SD: 2.11). Only 1 of 28 participants preferred less simulation. Exercises were described as helpful in identifying process and latent patient safety issues.

Conclusions: Our pediatric intensive care team found simulations to be beneficial in preparation for providing care to critically ill children in a complex new setting. Simulations uncovered latent process, personnel, and patient-safety issues that were addressed before actual patient care.
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March 2018

Health-related Quality of Life and Functional Outcomes in 5-year Survivors After Pancreaticoduodenectomy.

Ann Surg 2017 10;266(4):685-692

*Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA †Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA ‡Department of Psychology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA §Department of Surgery, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.

Objective: Our aim was to assess quality of life (QOL) and functionality in a large cohort of patients ≥5-years after pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD).

Background: Long-term QOL outcomes after PD for benign or malignant disease are largely undocumented.

Methods: We administered the EORTC QLQ-C30 questionnaire to patients who underwent PD for neoplasms from 1998 to 2011 and compared their scores with an age- and sex-matched normal population. Clinical relevance (CR) of differences was scored as small (5-10), moderate (10-20), or large (>20) based on validated interpretation of clinically important differences.

Results: Of 305 PD survivors, 245 (80.3%) responded, of whom 157 (64.1%) underwent PD for nonmalignant lesions. Median follow-up was 9.1 years (range 5.1 -21.2 yrs). New-onset diabetes developed in 10.6%; 50.4% reported taking pancreatic enzymes; 54.6% reported needing antacids. Compared with the age- and sex-adjusted controls, PD survivors demonstrated higher global QOL (78.7 vs 69.7, CR small, P < 0.001), physical (86.7 vs 77.9, CR small, P < 0.001) and role-functioning scores (86.3 vs 74.1, CR medium, P < 0.001). Using linear regression and adjusting for socioeconomic variables, there were no differences in QOL or functional scores in the benign versus malignant subgroups. Older age at operation was associated with worse physical-functioning (-0.4/yr, P = 0.008). Taking pancrelipase (-6.8, P = 0.035) or antacids (-6.3, P = 0.044) were both associated with lower social-functioning scores.

Conclusions: Patients who had a PD demonstrated better global QOL, physical- and role-functioning scores at 5-years when compared with age- and sex-matched controls. Approximately half of the patients required pancreatic enzyme replacement, while only 11% developed new-onset diabetes.
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October 2017

Nurses' perceptions of caring for parents of children with chronic medical complexity in the pediatric intensive care unit.

Intensive Crit Care Nurs 2017 Dec 20;43:149-155. Epub 2017 May 20.

Ingram School of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada; Montreal Children's Hospital, Montreal University Health Centre, Montreal, QC, Canada; Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada. Electronic address:

Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore nurses' perceptions of caring for parents of children with medical complexity [CMC] in the pediatric intensive care unit [PICU].

Research Methodology: An interpretive descriptive design was used to explore nurses' perceptions of caring for parents of CMC in the PICU. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten nurses. Interview data were collected and analyzed using qualitative inductive content analysis.

Findings: Nurses revealed that their experiences of caring for parents of CMC evolved over time as they learned to tailor a caregiving partnership based on trust. Although various circumstances could challenge this partnership, nurses strove to maintain and nurture it through self-reflection and optimal communication. Three themes were identified in the data that captured PICU nurses' perceptions: (i) "Thrown to the wolves": Adjusting to a new caregiving role; (ii) "Getting to know each other": Merging caregiving roles; (iii) "Keeping connected": Working to preserve the partnership.

Conclusions: Findings shed new light on the importance of a trusting nurse-parent partnership in caring for parents of CMC in the PICU. Results will be used to develop strategies to enhance this partnership, with the goal of supporting parents and staff in their caregiving roles.
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December 2017