Researchers find that checklists and error tracking are better ways to train surgeons

Accreditation Insider, July 5, 2016

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A new study has found that incorporating error tracking with checklists can give a more accurate determination of a trainee surgeon’s skill level. The study, published in The Journal of Surgical Education and conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University, examined how surgical trainees were graded when practicing on cadavers.

The study found that while Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills (OSATS) checklists give valid and reliable assessments, they were unable to determine quality of the techniques and methods used during surgery. Checklists are only able to measure if things have been done in the right order.
"The takeaway message is that checklists of procedural steps are a good way to assess the technical skills of these surgical residents. But they don't measure quality, highlighting a need to measure and give feedback on errors as part of the training," says study author Dawn LaPorte, MD, professor of orthopedic surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

As part of the study, trainees were graded using OSATS, as well as the Global Rating Scale [GRS] and a simple pass/fail system. The GRS takes a holistic view of the surgical process and offers residents feedback on if they used the surgical instruments correctly or if they displayed a broad understanding of the procedure. By combining the two, researchers were able to get a more accurate determination of a surgeon’s skill level.

Read more about this topic at HealthLeaders Media.

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