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Study finds problems with surgical training


Oregon patients who are awaiting surgery may feel more confident about the outcome if they know that the surgeon has performed a particular procedure hundreds of times. While experience is necessary to master a skill, feedback during training is also important.

A study that was conducted by John Hopkins researchers compared training methods that are used to help prospective orthopedic surgeons master their profession. Though current training methods use a pass/fail system, the researchers say that surgical residents need to receive more feedback from their teachers. If residents are judged on the volume of surgeries that they complete rather than how well they perform specific tasks, they might end up making the same mistakes over and over without being corrected.

The researchers say that a checklist called the Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills is a better training method for surgical residents because it allows them to receive detailed feedback. The Global Rating Scale is also a good way to objectively measure surgical performance, according to the researchers. When the pass/fail grading system is used, surgical residents only fail if they commit an egregious error, and they do not receive detailed feedback about less egregious mistakes that they might have made during a procedure.

Residents perform surgeries on cadavers so that their mistakes do not have real consequences for a living patient. When a working surgeon commits an error during a real operation, the result could be a worsened condition requiring additional costly treatment. Those who have been harmed by surgical mistakes may wish to discuss their situation with a medical malpractice attorney in order to learn what legal remedies they may have.