Background: The role of the surgical morbidity and mortality (M&M) conference as a forum for examination of surgical failure may remain unclear. This paper reports the results of a national survey of surgical faculty and trainees regarding the role and effectiveness of the M&M conference.
Methods: Based on focus groups and pilot studies from multiple institutions in one geographic area, a questionnaire addressing critical issues in attitudes toward the M&M conference was sent to 1,100 randomly chosen subjects nationwide: 500 residents and 600 staff. The survey includes individual and institutional demographic information, 15 statements answered using a Likert scale, and 2 open-ended questions.
Results: Faculty response rate was 501 of 600 (83%) and resident response rate was 166 of 500 (33%). Responses were generally positive in both groups, with staff showing small but significantly more positive attitudes than residents. A higher proportion of residents characterize the M&M conference as too defensive.
Conclusion: The M&M conference is fulfilling its potential as a teaching tool but there may be room for improvement as residents view the experience slightly less positively than faculty. This questionnaire provides a perspective of expectations for the M&M conference, allowing educators to optimize its effectiveness.