A surgeon's skill and performance peak at mid-career, according to new research published in the British Medical Journal.
The study's authors tracked the rates of 2 permanent and recurrent complications after more than 3,500 thyroidectomies performed by 28 surgeons at 5 French hospitals. Surgeons between the age of 35 and 50 had better post-op outcomes than their younger and older colleagues, say the study's authors.
During the early years of their careers, younger surgeons should undergo simulation training, proctoring, continuous monitoring of performance and targeted retraining if needed, suggest the researchers.
An experienced surgeon's performance could decline over time due to mental fatigue, notes the study. Set-in-their-ways surgeons might also resist new techniques that could reduce complication rates. "Talent and experience are not enough to guarantee safe surgery," say the researchers, who suggest that recertification of surgeons older than 50 years of age could focus on mental coaching and raising awareness of clinical performances.
Novice surgeons cannot improve their performances simply by working in a high-volume hospital, say the researchers. At the same time older physicians don't improve by passively accumulating experience. This, according to the study, "raises concerns about ongoing training and motivation throughout a career that extends several decades."
© Copyright Herrin Publishing Partners LP. REPRODUCTION OF THIS COPYRIGHTED CONTENT IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. We encourage LINKING to this content; view our linking policy here.