Closer to the Mean: An Argument for Decreased Variance in Surgery

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Variation, long accepted to be the norm in otolaryngologic surgical practice, has recently come under scrutinization. Efforts can be seen daily in the operating room to standardize procedures with time-outs, checklists, and protocols. The thought is that by enforcing repetition and eliminating variation, it is possible to decrease human error and reduce cost. However, there is understandable resistance from surgeons in removing the “art” from surgery. We propose that standardization, if appropriately put into practice, can improve surgical outcomes and efficiency and even enhance resident education.

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