Comparison of appendectomy outcomes between senior general surgeons and general surgery residents.
Balancing supervision and autonomy for trainee physicians is a contested area in patient safety. This analysis of medical record data at a single institution compared complication rates following acute appendectomy between surgical resident physicians and attending surgeons. As measured by a composite score, the complication rate did not differ between trainees and attending surgeons. There was no difference in the rate of follow-up imaging, length of stay, or duration of antibiotics following surgery. On average, trainees took about 9 minutes longer to complete the surgery. The authors conclude that trainees do not require attending supervision to safely perform appendectomies. A related editorial calls for greater surgical resident autonomy and notes the importance of real-life experience with procedures to prepare residents for independent practice. A past PSNet perspective explored this tension between supervision and autonomy in medical education.