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Effect of surgeon-specific feedback on surgical outcomes: a systematic review of the literature.

ANZ Journal of Surgery 2023 November 15
BACKGROUND: Surgeon-specific outcome reporting provides an opportunity for quality assurance and improved surgical results. It is becoming increasingly prevalent and remains contentious amongst surgeons. The purpose of this systematic review was to evaluate the extent to which published literature supports the concept that feedback of surgeon-level outcomes reduces morbidity and/or mortality. No systematic reviews have previously been completed on this subject.

METHODS: Medline and Embase were systematically searched for studies published prior to the 1st of January 2022. Feedback was defined as a summary of clinical performance over a specified period of time provided in written, electronic or verbal format. Studies were required to provide surgeon-specific feedback to multiple individual consultant surgeons with the primary purpose being to determine if feedback improved outcomes. Primary outcome(s) needed to relate to surgical outcomes as opposed to process measures only. All surgical specialties and procedures were eligible for inclusion.

RESULTS: Seventeen studies were included in the review, traversing a wide range of specialties and procedures. Sixteen were non-randominsed and one randomized. Fifteen were before and after studies. The balance of the non-randomized studies support the concept that provision of surgeon-specific feedback can improve surgical outcomes, while the single randomized study suggests feedback may not be effective.

CONCLUSIONS: This systematic review supports the use of surgeon-level feedback to improve outcomes. The strength of this finding is limited by reliance on before and after studies, further randomized studies on this subject would be insightful.

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