Fourth year student Nicholas Russo received Northwell Health System’s Clinical Research Award this past June. The award is part of Northwell’s Annual Academic Competition, which encourages and recognizes scholarly papers and poster presentations. Just three medical students were recognized within the category.
Russo’s research focused on inferior vena cava (IVC) filters, which are used to prevent venous thromboembolism (VTE or blood clots in the legs and lungs).
According to his research, placement of IVC filters has risen in recent years despite no demonstrated increase in VTE rates. And, it’s become commonplace with laxity in the indication guidelines across multiple specialties. In an effort to reduce egregious filter insertion rates, Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH)—where Russo completed his surgery rotation—implemented a strict indication policy in 2012.
Russo set out to understand how SIUH’s policy impacted patient outcomes. He reviewed the charts of every patient who received an IVC filter between 2010 and 2015 and found a 41% statistically significant reduction in filters when comparing pre-policy years to post-policy years. He also noted a higher concentration of IVC filter placements in patients with absolute indication versus relative and prophylactic indication. Despite this reduced use, Russo found no statistical or clinically significant difference in pulmonary embolus rates among patients. He concluded, therefore, that hospitals can reduce costs and eliminate patient complications from IVC filters by instituting strict indication policies.
Russo continues to update and revise his research, which has been presented at multiple vascular surgery meetings throughout the United States. In March, he traveled to Las Vegas for the Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery’s Annual Symposium and in June he was in Washington, DC for the Society for Vascular Surgery’s Annual Meeting—the largest vascular gathering in the country. Just last month, he traveled to Philadelphia for the Eastern Vascular Society’s Annual Meeting and Washington, DC for the American College of Surgeon’s Clinical Congress.
“For me, research is a key component to evolving as a physician,” says Russo. “It forces you to question things and not just accept them. I think that makes you a better doctor, a better teacher and a better clinician.”
With his January graduation approaching, Russo hopes to turn his research into manuscripts. He has three papers currently under review and is working on a fourth. Throughout the process, he has worked with various SIUH attendings and vascular surgery fellows—affording him valuable time with experts in a field he one day hopes to join.
Russo is currently applying to integrated vascular surgery and general surgery programs for this year’s National Resident Matching Program®.