Are current credentialing requirements for robotic surgery adequate to ensure surgeon proficiency?

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BACKGROUND: Robotic surgery has seen unprecedented growth, requiring hospitals to establish or update credentialing policies regarding this technology. Concerns about verification of robotic surgeon proficiency and the adequacy of current credentialing criteria to maintain patient safety have arisen. The aim of this project was to examine existing institutional credentialing requirements for robotic surgery and evaluate their adequacy in ensuring surgeon proficiency.

METHODS: Robotic credentialing policies for community and academic surgery programs were acquired and reviewed. Common criteria across institutions related to credentialing and recredentialing were identified and the average, standard deviation, and range of numeric requirements, if defined, was calculated. Criteria for proctors and assistants were also analyzed.

RESULTS: Policies from 42 geographically dispersed US hospitals were reviewed. The majority of policies relied on a defined number of proctored cases as a surrogate for proficiency with an average of 3.24 ± 1.69 and a range of 1-10 cases required for initial credentialing. While 34 policies (81%) addressed maintenance of privileges requirements, there was wide variability in the average number of required robotic cases (7.19 ± 3.28 per year) and range (1-15 cases per year). Only 11 policies (26%) addressed the maximum allowable time gap between robotic cases.

CONCLUSION: Significant variability in credentialing policies exists in a representative sample of US hospitals. Most policies require completion of a robotic surgery training course and a small number of proctored cases; however, ongoing objective performance assessments and patient outcome monitoring was rarely described. Existing credentialing policies are likely inadequate to ensure surgeon proficiency; therefore, development and wide implementation of robust credentialing guidelines is recommended to optimize patient safety and outcomes.




Medicine and Health Sciences



Peer Reviewed for front end display



Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

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