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Assessment of surgeon fatigue by surgical simulators

Authors Tuwairqi K, Selter J, Sikder S

Received 20 November 2014

Accepted for publication 20 January 2015

Published 13 April 2015 Volume 2015:8 Pages 43—50

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OAS.S77711

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Cataldo Doria


Khaled Tuwairqi,1 Jessica H Selter,2 Shameema Sikder3

1College of Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, 2Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 3Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA

Background: The impact of fatigue on surgical performance and its implications for patient care is a growing concern. While investigators have employed a number of different tools to measure the effect of fatigue on surgical performance, the use of the surgical simulator has been increasingly implemented for this purpose. The goal of this paper is to review the published literature to achieve a better understanding of evaluation of fatigue on performance as studied with surgical simulators.
Methods: A PubMed and Cochrane search was conducted using the search terms “simulator”, “surgery”, and “fatigue”. In total, 50 papers were evaluated, and 20 studies were selected after application of exclusion criteria. Articles were excluded if they did not use the simulator to assess the impact of fatigue on surgeon performance. Systematic reviews and case reports were also excluded.
Results: Surgeon fatigue led to a consistent decline in cognitive function in six studies. Technical skills were evaluated in 18 studies, and a detrimental impact was reported in nine studies, while the remaining nine studies showed either no change or positive results with regard to surgical skills after experience of fatigue. Two pharmacological intervention studies reversed the detrimental impact of fatigue on cognitive function, but no change or a worsening effect was recognized for technical skills.
Conclusion: Simulators are increasingly being used to evaluate the impact of fatigue on the surgeon's performance. With regard to the impact of fatigue in this regard, studies have demonstrated a consistent decline in cognitive function and mixed outcomes for technical skills. Larger studies that relate the simulator's results to real surgical outcomes could help residency programs and policy makers in structuring more efficient training.

Keywords: surgical education, fatigue, simulator, sleep deprivation, duty hours


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