Surgeon Experience and Outcomes: An Age Old Question
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In their retrospective study of 206 congenital heart surgeons across 91 centers, Anderson et al1 report that surgeons in their earliest years in practice have similar outcomes compared with more senior colleagues. In contrast, surgeons who have been practicing for >35 years were found to have considerably higher postoperative morbidity and mortality rates, even after accounting for the potential effects of procedural volume. These findings are reassuring in that surgeons in their early years of practice can achieve similar outcomes compared with their more experienced partners. Notably, these results are also aligned with prior literature that suggests that there are differences in clinical care and outcomes by clinician age in both surgical and medical specialties.2–4 However, findings from the current study also indicate that this effect is independent of procedural volume, and maintaining caseloads and repetition may not confer a protective effect against age-related changes in surgeon performance. Taken together, these results highlight the need for careful reflection about the mechanisms that underlie surgeon performance and clinical outcomes over time.
See Article by Anderson et al
Surgical performance reflects more than technical skills alone. The ability to execute a procedure efficiently, meticulously, and safely is borne from experience, cognitive skills, dexterity, visual-spatial ability, and environmental factors. Particularly …