Robotically Assisted Thoracic Surgery: Proposed Guidelines for Privileging and Credentialing

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Increased use of robotically assisted thoracic surgery (RATS) necessitates effective credentialing guidelines to ensure safe outcomes. We provide a stepwise algorithm for granting privileges and credentials in RATS. This algorithm reflects graduated responsibility and complexity of the surgical procedures performed. Furthermore, it takes into account volume, outcomes, surgeon's competency, and appropriateness of robot usage.


We performed a literature review for available strategies to grant privileges and credentials for implementing robotic surgery. The following terms were queried: robot, robotic, surgery, and credentialing. We provide this algorithm on the basis of review of the literature, our institutional experience, and the experience of other medical centers around the United States.


Currently, two pathways for robotic training exist: residency and nonresidency-trained. In the United Sates, Joint Commission: Accreditation, Health Care, Certification requires hospitals to credential and privilege physicians on their medical staff. In the proposed algorithm, a credentialing designee oversees and reviews all requests. Residency-trained surgeons must fulfill 20 cases with program directors' attestation to obtain full privileges. Nonresidency-trained surgeons are required to fulfill simulation, didactics including online modules, wet laboratories (cadaver or animal), and observation of at least two cases before provisional privileges can be granted. A minimum number of cases (10 per year) are required to maintain privileges. All procedures are monitored via departmental QA/QI committee review. Investigational uses of the robot require institutional review board approval, and complex operations may require additional proctoring and QA/QI review.


Safety concerns with the introduction of novel and complex technologies such as RATS must be paramount. Our algorithm takes into consideration appropriate use and serves as a basic guideline for institutions that wish to implement a RATS program.

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