Use of Suturing as a Measure of Technical Competence
Annals of Plastic Surgery
There is an ongoing demand for surgeons to demonstrate that they can operate well, maintain their performance, and deliver acceptable results. Currently, surgeons are assessed by a series of subjective and peer-reviewed interviews, but at no stage is the objective assessment of surgical competence measured. The authors have introduced an objective test of suturing skill as one of an array of tests used to assess technical ability. A range of surgeons with differing surgical skill was tested.
... kill was tested. The candidates were asked to suture a 4-cm wound on a latex skin pad. They were videotaped during the procedure and were scored by four independent observers using the Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skill scoring system. Their movements were also monitored using an electromagnetic tracking system. Forty-three plastic surgeons and 46 general surgeons were divided into four groups, depending on grade, and were assessed. The difference in scores among the plastic surgeons gave a value of p < 0.001, whereas the general surgeons gave a value of p ؍ 0.001. However, when similar grade but different specialties were compared, plastic surgeons scored significantly higher (down to senior house officer [resident year 1-2] level; mean p value ؍ 0.019). Interrater reliability was also high (Cronbach alpha ؍ 0.89). This task has shown that technical ability can be assessed objectively. The task has also been shown to exhibit face, construct, and concurrent validity. This has important implications for the future of surgical training in that it allows one to identify whether the fundamentals of surgical technique have been passed on to the trainee and to monitor their progress continually. It also may be used in revalidation of surgeons. Khan MS, Bann SD, Darzi A, Butler PEM. Use of suturing as a measure of technical competence. Ann Plast Surg 2003;50:304 -309 From the