Are Early Career Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeons Performing Less Complex Trauma Surgery?

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Abstract

Purpose:

There has recently been an increase in the number of fellowship trained orthopaedic trauma surgeons, raising concerns that the surgical experience of early career surgeons may be diluted. We sought to evaluate the change in complex trauma case volume of orthopaedic trauma surgeons sitting for Part II of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons certification examination.

Methods:

The case log data from all surgeons taking Part II of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons examination over a 13-year period (2003–2015) was evaluated. Any surgeon who examined in the trauma subspecialty was included. We defined pelvis, acetabulum, and periarticular fracture surgeries as complex trauma procedures and evaluated changes in case volume over time.

Results:

We included 468 candidates who examined as trauma subspecialists and performed 90,261 procedures. The number of candidates testing in trauma per year ranged from 15 to 65 and increased significantly over time [β = 4.05 (0.37), P < 0.0001]. Their case volume was stable over time [β = −1.7 (1.1), P = 0.16]. The number of acetabulum fracture surgeries performed decreased significantly over time from a mean of 10.1 cases in 2003 to 5.2 cases in 2015 [β = −0.34 (0.08), P = 0.0015]. There was no significant change in the number of pelvic fracture surgeries [β = −0.1 (0.1), P = 0.285]. There was a trend toward less periarticular fracture surgeries [β = −0.3 (0.1), P = 0.072].

Conclusions:

Although pelvic ring and periarticular fracture case volume have remained stable, early career surgeons have experienced a significant decrease in acetabular fracture case volume. The implications of this decreased surgical experience warrant careful consideration as the orthopaedic trauma workforce evolves.

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