June 11, 2019

Operative outcomes of new vs experienced surgeons

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

The majority of differences in outcomes between new and experiences surgeons are associated with the context in which care is delivered and patient complexity, rather than inexperience, this study finds.

A total of 694,165 Medicare patients treated by 8,503 experienced surgeons were matched to 68,036 treated by 2,119 new surgeons working in the same hospitals.

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Compared with experienced surgeons, new surgeons’ patients:

  • were older (25.8% aged 85 years or more vs 16.3%)
  • had more emergency admissions (53.9% vs 25.8%)
  • had a significantly higher baseline 30-day mortality rate (6.2% vs 4.5%).

The difference in mortality rate remained significant after matching the types of procedures performed (6.2% vs 5.1%) and after matching on a combination of procedure type and emergency admission status (6.2% vs 5.6%).

However, after matching on procedure type, emergency admission status, and patient complexity, the difference in 30-day mortality rate between new and experienced surgeons was almost indistinguishable (6.2% vs 5.9%).


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