Katherine Baxter Earns Poster Award at 11th Emory Quality Conference

April 2018

"New Designs for a New Era" was the theme of the 11th Emory Quality conference, which was held in April 2018 and sponsored by Emory Healthcare in partnership with Emory School of Medicine. Teams from Emory Healthcare, plus groups from Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta VA Medical Center, and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta submitted posters highlighting their efforts to improve quality in patient care. Winners were selected in nine categories.

Katherine Baxter, MD, a general surgery resident in the second year of her research sabbatical with faculty mentor and pediatric surgeon Mehul Raval, MD, led the winning team in the category of Outstanding Use of Reliability Principles. Her team's goal was to determine if using an enhanced recovery protocol with children undergoing colorectal surgery could reduce post-discharge opioid use.

The enhanced recovery protocol has been in use at Children's since 2015, and is geared toward restoring bowel function earlier, which in turn leads to earlier discharge from the hospital. The protocol includes such components as using non-opioid post-op pain relief, limiting IV fluids, feeding patients sooner after surgery, and getting them up and walking earlier.

The Children's colorectal surgery team had previously examined other outcomes related to the protocol, such as reduced length of stay, reduced in-house opioid use, and reduced readmission rates. This project focused on opioid use after discharge and found the percentage of children discharged on opioids decreased from 70 percent to 34 percent.

Nate Spell, director of the EHC Quality Academy and associate dean for education and professional development at the medical school, oversaw the poster competition, and was particularly impressed by the quality of the work done in the student category. "The winners of the Best Poster by a Student or Trainee performed as well as, if not better than, many of the other teams," he says. "The approach they took and the tools they applied were particularly impressive, considering they are students."