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How much and what type: Analysis of the first year of the acute care surgery operative case log

Dente, Christopher J. MD; Duane, Therese M. MD; Jurkovich, Gregory J. MD; Britt, L.D. MD, MPH; Meredith, J. Wayne MD; Fildes, John J. MD

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: February 2014 - Volume 76 - Issue 2 - p 329–339
doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000000114
AAST 2013 Plenary Papers

BACKGROUND A case log was created by the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma Acute Care Surgery (ACS) committee to track trainee operative experiences, allowing them to enter their cases in the form of Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes. We hypothesized that the number of cases an ACS trainee performed would be similar to the expectations of a fifth-year general surgery resident and that the current list of essential and desired cases (E/D list) would accurately reflect cases done by ACS trainees.

METHODS The database was queried from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012. Trainees were classified as those in American Association for the Surgery of Trauma–accredited fellowships (ACC) and those in ACS fellowships not accredited (non-ACC). CPT codes were mapped to the E/D list. Cases entered manually were individually reviewed and assigned a CPT code if possible or listed as “noncodable.” To compensate for nonoperative rotations and noncompliance, case numbers were analyzed both annually and monthly to estimate average case numbers for all trainees. In addition, case logs of trainees were compared with the E/D list to assess how well it reflected actual trainee experience.

RESULTS Eighteen ACC ACS and 11 non-ACC ACS trainees performed 16.4 (12.6) cases per month compared with 15.7 (14.2) cases for non-ACC ACS fellows (p = 0.71). When annualized, trainees performed, on average, 195 cases per year. Annual analysis led to similar results. The E/D list captured only approximately 50% of the trainees’ operative experience. Only 77 cases were categorized as pediatric.

CONCLUSION ACS trainees have substantial operative experience averaging nearly 200 major cases during their ACS year. However, high variability exists in the number of essential or desirable cases being performed with approximately 50% of the fellows’ operative experience falling outside the E/D list of cases. Modification of the fellows’ operative experience and/or the rotation requirements seems to be needed to provide experience in E/D cases.

Supplemental digital content is available in the article.

From the Department of Surgery (C.J.D.), Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia; Department of Surgery (T.M.D.), VCU Medical Center, Richmond, Virginia; Department of Surgery (G.J.J.), Denver Health Medical Center, Denver, Colorado; Department of Surgery (L.D.B.), Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Virginia; Department of Surgery (J.W.M.), Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and Department of Surgery (J.J.F.), University of Nevada School of Medicine, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Submitted: July 26, 2013, Revised: October 29, 2013, Accepted: November 5, 2013.

This study was presented at the 72nd annual meeting of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, September 18–21, 2013, in San Francisco, California.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text, and links to the digital files are provided in the HTML text of this article on the journal’s Web site (

Address for reprints: Christopher J. Dente, MD, Emory University 69 Jesse Hill Jr. Dr SE, Department of Surgery Glenn Memorial Bldg, Room 302 Atlanta, GA 30303; email:

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.