Impact of an Event Reporting System on Resident Complication Reporting in Plastic Surgery Training: Addressing an ACGME and Plastic Surgery Milestone Project Core Competency

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The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and Plastic Surgery Milestone Project has identified practice-based learning and improvement, which involves systematically analyzing current practices and implementing changes, as a core competency in residency education. In surgical care, complication reporting is an essential component of practice-based learning and improvement as complications are analyzed in morbidity and mortality conference for quality improvement. Unfortunately, current methods for capturing a comprehensive profile of complications may significantly underestimate the true occurrence of complications. Therefore, the objectives of this study are to evaluate an intervention for complication reporting and compare this to current practice, in a plastic surgery training program.


This is a preintervention and postintervention study evaluating resident reporting of complications on a plastic surgery service. The intervention was an online event reporting system developed by department leadership and patient safety experts. The cohorts consisted of all patients undergoing surgery during two separate 3-month blocks bridged by an implementation period. A trained reviewer recorded complications, and this served as the reference standard. Fisher’s exact test was used for binary comparisons.


There were 32 complications detected in 219 patients from June to August of 2015 and 35 complications in 202 patients from October to December of 2015. The proportion of complications reported in the preintervention group was nine of 32 (28.1 percent). After the intervention, this significantly increased to 32 of 35 (91.4 percent) (p < 0.001).


An intervention using an event reporting system, supported by departmental leadership, led to significant improvements in complication reporting by plastic surgery residents.

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