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Should surgical residents’ errors be tracked?

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2019 | Orthopedic Malpractice

What if your boss only monitored and reported on your achievements and didn’t note your mistakes or count them against you? That would certainly be a pretty cushy position, many employees might think.

But that is the reality for many orthopedic surgeons-in-training. Researchers found that while tracking the students’ performances using donated cadavers indicated a fair measure of their skills but that there also needed to be a system in place to track surgical errors.

Research was conducted at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, to find the most appropriate way to assess potential orthopedic surgeons’ skills. In addition to checking off the skills the surgical residents successfully completed, one of the orthopedic surgery professors who authored the report on their findings noted there was also a need to chart and measure the areas on which they fell short.

After all, the case numbers only reflect volume without taking into account the surgeon’s skill levels. Caps on the number of hours that residents can work have been instituted to avoid their making dangerous mistakes from lack of sleep, but this also reduced the residents’ opportunities to learn in the field, which makes tracking their errors all the more vital.

Without supervisory feedback on errors and motor skills, surgical residents may unknowingly perpetuate their mistakes on patients. It’s far better to allow the mistakes to occur on cadavers so they can benefit from learning from their mistakes “in a safe environment before they’re holding the knife to operate on real people,” the orthopedic surgery professor stated.

There’s no doubt that patients want to have confidence in their surgeons. A botched orthopedic surgery can leave a patient unable to walk or even be completely immobilized. If you were the victim of orthopedic malpractice, you may decide to seek damages from those responsible.