Jack Barney award: the effect of fatigue on cognitive and psychomotor skills of trauma residents and attending surgeons

Am J Surg. 2008 Dec;196(6):813-9; discussion 819-20. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2008.07.030.


Background: Fatigue and sleep deprivation and their effects on surgical proficiency have been actively researched areas. Past studies that have focused solely on residents have provided an important insight into how fatigue affects residents' ability to perform. This study aims to quantify the effect of fatigue on attending surgeons.

Methods: To quantify the effect of fatigue on psychomotor and cognitive skills of surgical residents and attending surgeons, visiohaptic simulations were created to mimic realistic interactions.

Results: Both groups showed a significant decrement in proficiency measures postcall. When tasks were separated based on psychomotor versus cognitive-dominated skills, attending surgeons made 25% fewer (P < .05) cognitive errors than residents postcall. Psychomotor skills were equally affected in both groups.

Conclusions: Call-associated fatigue is associated with increased error rates in the cognitive skill domain, although less so in attending surgeons compared with their resident counterparts.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Awards and Prizes
  • Clinical Competence
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Fatigue / psychology*
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Task Performance and Analysis