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The challenge of objective assessment of surgical skill

Technical performance in surgery has come under increased scrutiny in recent years, not least due to several highly publicized cases where it has been suggested that poor outcomes were the result of inadequate technical skill [1–3] . In the Bristol case, which involved a pediatric cardiac surgery unit, the concerns voiced by a member of medical staff have now resulted in disciplinary action against two surgeons by the General Medical Council, and a judicial inquiry, which is yet to hand down its report (www.bristol-inquiry.org.uk). The resulting debate, both public and within the profession, has focused on the need for objective and independent assessment of surgical skill, and a significant research interest has developed in this area.</P><h5>Methods of assessment</h5> There are now several methods of providing an objective assessment of performance available [4–6] . Some of these are well established whereas others are research tools in the process of evaluation. In general, these methods involve a standardized set of tasks. Most assessment is carried out in the laboratory setting, although there are some techniques that are amenable for use in the operating room. Our aim in this article is not to review these objective methods of assessment, which are http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The American Journal of Surgery Elsevier
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