A lot of articles about measuring surgical outcomes neglect to mention the importance of collecting follow-up data, which can be a great opportunity for self-improvement. The Temple of Apollo’s inscription states, “Physician, Know Thyself.”
The expression “The surgeon is the method” refers to each surgeon’s unique indications, techniques and outcomes. It’s important for us all to understand the characteristics and treatment preferences of our patients. We need to gather our data in a systematic fashion that minimizes selection bias so we can “own our outcomes”. We must follow each patient for as long as possible to see if they are responding to our treatment (Codman: A Study of Hospital Efficiency).
It is amazing how few surgeons, whether in academic or community practice, have established a followup system that will improve their practice. For surgeons who are just starting out in surgery, the best time is now to put together a self-improvement program. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
This is how you can achieve it