Background: The assessment of performance in surgery is expanding significantly. Application of relevant frameworks to plastic surgery, however, has been limited. In this article, the authors present two robust graphic tools commonly used in other industries that may serve to monitor individual surgeon operative time while factoring in patient- and surgeon-specific elements.
Methods: The authors reviewed performance data from all bilateral reduction mammaplasties performed at their institution by eight surgeons between 1995 and 2010. Operative time was used as a proxy for performance. Cumulative sum charts and exponentially weighted moving average charts were generated using a train-test analytic approach, and used to monitor surgical performance. Charts mapped crude, patient case-mix–adjusted, and case-mix and surgical-experience–adjusted performance.
Results: Operative time was found to decline from 182 minutes to 118 minutes with surgical experience (p < 0.001). Cumulative sum and exponentially weighted moving average charts were generated using 1995 to 2007 data (1053 procedures) and tested on 2008 to 2010 data (246 procedures). The sensitivity and accuracy of these charts were significantly improved by adjustment for case mix and surgeon experience.
Conclusions: The consideration of patient- and surgeon-specific factors is essential for correct interpretation of performance in plastic surgery at the individual surgeon level. Cumulative sum and exponentially weighted moving average charts represent accurate methods of monitoring operative time to control and potentially improve surgeon performance over the course of a career.