Early crisis nontechnical skill teaching in residency leads to long-term skill retention and improved performance during crises: A prospective, nonrandomized controlled study

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Medical error is common in crises, and the majority of observed errors are nontechnical in nature. The long-term impact of teaching crisis nontechnical skills to residents has not been evaluated. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of simulation-based teaching of crisis nontechnical skills compared to controls one year after initial teaching.


This was a prospective study using both historical controls and a before-and-after methodology to evaluate the effect of a high-fidelity simulation curriculum that used crisis resource management principles to teach nontechnical skills. Postgraduate year 2 and 3 residents were invited to take part in a prospective training course over 2 years. The primary outcome was leader performance evaluated by expert raters using the previously validated 7-point Ottawa Global Rating Scale.


Overall, 23 residents performed 30 simulations over the 2 years with the intervention group of 7 residents being assessed in both years. After adjustment, the postgraduate year 3 intervention group who received training the previous year had significantly higher overall performance scores than all postgraduate year 2 scores (1.09 95% confidence interval 0.70–1.47, P < .001) and the historical postgraduate year 3 cohort who received no prior training (1.20, 95% confidence interval 0.37–2.03, P = .005). There was no decay of skills noted over the course of the study.


Postgraduate year 3 residents who had prior training had significantly improved crisis performance compared to historical postgraduate year 3 controls and untrained postgraduate year 2 residents. There were no significant differences between the crisis performance of postgraduate year 2 residents and the untrained postgraduate year 3 controls. This confirms the beneficial effect and long-term retention after crisis nontechnical skill training.

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