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Study Finds No Evidence of Heightened Risk With Surgical Residents

Going under the knife is nothing to take lightly. Knowing your surgeon is fresh out of residency only adds to the stress. But one study, however, indicates that-despite public perception-there is no higher risk of serious complications or medical errors from surgery performed by a surgeon-in-training or resident than a seasoned physician.

The study, as published in the Annals of Surgery, examined over 60,000 surgeries performed in the U.S. between 2005 and 2007. The data revealed that about 6 percent of surgeries where a resident (a doctor in training) either conducted or was involved in the operation resulted in complications.

The study revealed that there was also no significant different in death rates of patients between the two groups. Roughly 0.18 percent of patients in the resident group died, versus 0.2 percent in the non-resident group.

However, the study did find that minor complications such as skin infections were slightly higher among the resident group. The data showed that 3 percent of patients had superficial infections when a resident was involved versus 2.2 percent of patients with a nonresident.

Researchers, however, attribute the increase in minor complications in instances where residents were involved to the length of the surgical procedure. Those procedures with the residents took almost 30 minutes longer. The longer a patient is under the knife, the higher the risk of problems.

Source: Reuters, Having a trainee surgeon in operations is safe-study, Aug 15, 2012

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