Evaluation of an error-reduction training program for surgical residents

Acad Med. 2009 Dec;84(12):1809-14. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181bf36b0.


Purpose: To reduce errors in surgery using a resident training program based on a taxonomy that highlights three kinds of errors: judgment, inattention to detail, and problem understanding.

Method: The training program module at the University of South Florida incorporated a three-item situational judgment test, video training (which included a lecture and behavior modeling), and role-plays (in which residents participated and received feedback from faculty). Two kinds of outcome data were collected from 33 residents during 2006-2007: (1) behaviors during the training and (2) on-the-job surgical complication records 12 months before and 6 months after training. For the data collected during training, participants were assigned to a condition (19 video condition, 13 control condition); for the data collected on the job, an interrupted time series design was used.

Results: Data from 32 residents were analyzed (one resident's data were excluded). One of the situational judgment items improved significantly over time (d = 0.45); the other two did not (d = 0.36, 0.25). Surgical complications and errors decreased over the course of the study (the correlation between complications and time in months was r = -0.47, for errors and time, r = -0.55). Effects of video behavior modeling on specific errors measured during role-plays were not significant (effect sizes for binary outcomes were phi = -0.05 and phi = 0.01, and for continuous outcomes, d ranged from -0.02 to 0.34).

Conclusions: The training seemed to reduce errors in surgery, but the training had little effect on the specific kinds of errors targeted during training.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Decision Making
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency* / organization & administration
  • Judgment
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Problem Solving
  • Role Playing
  • Teaching