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Study: error-tracking makes for more effective surgical resident training

An important task for any surgical residency program is how to evaluate the skills of its surgeons in training. Thorough and effective training, of course, ensures surgeons are equipped to succeed in their work and that patients entrusted to their case will receive competent care.

A recently published study from Johns Hopkins looks at the issue of how to effective assess the operating skills of orthopedic surgeons. What the study found was that the common method of using step-by-step checklists and measures to assess general surgical skills is effective as far as it goes, but that it is more effective when combined with a rigorous system for detecting and tracking errors. 

Error-tracking, according to the study, allows for training programs to assess the quality of surgical care. At present, most training models focus on case numbers as a measure of a resident’s skills in a particular procedure, without giving enough attention to motor skills and errors. This creates a situation where surgeons in training are allowed to make mistakes and move into their surgical careers without effective feedback on their motor skills.

With live patients, small mistakes can have serious, sometimes long-term effects on patients. When surgical mistakes do occur, of course, patients who suffer serious harm have the right to seek compensation for their injuries, not only from the surgeon who made the mistake, but potentially also from the other hospital staff involved and the hospital or clinic responsible for overseeing the work of the surgeon. Working with an experienced attorney is critical to ensure a patient has the opportunity to seek just compensation. 

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