Safety considerations in learning new procedures: a survey of surgeons

Todd A. Jaffe, Steven J. Hasday, Meghan Knol, Jason Pradarelli, Sudha R.Pavuluri Quamme, Caprice C. Greenberg, Justin B. Dimick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background There exists a tension between surgical innovation and safety. The learning curve associated with the introduction of new procedures/technologies has been associated with preventable patient harm. Surgeon's perceptions regarding the safety of methods for learning new procedures/technologies are largely uncharacterized. Materials and methods A survey was designed to evaluate surgeons' perceptions related to learning new procedures/technologies. This included clinical vignettes across two domains: (1) experience with an operation (e.g., colectomy) and (2) experience with a technology (e.g., laparoscopy). This study also focuses on a surgeon's perceptions of existing credentialing/privileging requirements. Participants were faculty surgeons (n = 150) at two large Midwestern academic health centers. Results Survey response rate was 77% (116/150). 69% of respondents believed the processes of credentialing/privileging is “far too relaxed” or “too relaxed” for ensuring patient safety. Surgeons most commonly indicated a mini-fellowship is required to learn a new laparoscopic procedure. However, that requirement differed based on a surgeon's prior experience with laparoscopy. For example, to learn laparoscopic colectomy, 35% of respondents felt a surgeon with limited laparoscopic experience should complete a mini-fellowship, whereas 3% felt this was necessary if the surgeon had extensive laparoscopic experience. In the latter scenario, most respondents felt a surgeon should scrub in cases performed by an expert (38%) or perform cases under a proctor's supervision (33%) when learning laparoscopic colectomy. Conclusions Many surgeons believe existing hospital credentialing/privileging practices may be too relaxed. Moreover, surgeons believe the “one-size-fits-all” approach for training practicing surgeons may not protect patients from unsafe introduction of new procedures/technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-366
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Continuing medical education
  • Credentialing and privileging
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Quality
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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