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Operations Involving Trainee Surgeons Found To Be Safe

UL Professor of involved in study which shows that having a trainee surgeon in operations is safe

A high profile study involving Professor of Surgery, Calvin Coffey at the University of ’s Graduate Entry Medical School has shown that surgical operations in which surgeons-in-training* are involved are as safe as operations performed in which trainees have no operative role. The new study addressed earlier studies which raised concerns that the presence of surgeons-in-training may raise the level of risk involved.

The project team reviewed data from more than 60,000 surgeries conducted in the US between 2005 and 2008. The researchers found that the rate of incidence of major complication in surgeries with a surgeon-in-training involved was 6% which is the same figure for surgeries without a resident involved.

Chair of Surgery at UL’s Graduate Entry Medical School, Professor Calvin Coffey, was part of the Cleveland Clinic-based research team that published the study in the journal ‘’.

Professor Coffey complimented the research team which was led by of the Cleveland Clinic saying; “the significance of the results and their relevance to are evidenced by the media interest, especially in the United States. It is now clear that while the involvement of surgeons-in-training was always anecdotally accepted as safe, this has now been formally investigated and the practice proven to be safe”.

, Director of Research, Graduate Entry Medical School, UL said “Since joining the University of Limerick, Professor Coffey has maintained an international research role while also initiating new research programmes in Ireland. His work on novel medical devices was recognised at the Enterprise Ireland/Cleveland Clinic Innovation Awards in 2011, and his focus on enhanced patient safety is reflected in his current drive to develop technology-enhanced surgical procedures in Limerick. This paper is an example of how patient safety and improved health outcomes remain at the centre of medical innovation. “

UL Professor Coffey is Consultant Surgeon at Limerick University Hospital and Director of the Centre for Interventions in Infection, Inflammation & Immunity (4i) at UL. In 2011, he received the James IV Fellowship which is awarded to candidates who have made outstanding contributions to the art and science of surgery.

The Centre for Interventions in Infection, Inflammation & Immunity (4i) at the University of Limerick’s Graduate Entry Medical School is newly-established and brings together a multidisciplinary team of researchers focused on developing studies that impact health outcomes. A major focus of 4i is the translation of research findings into better patient outcomes and improved effectiveness, efficiency, and economics in healthcare provision.


“Impact of resident participation in surgical operations on postoperative outcomes: national surgical quality improvement program”, Kiran RP, Ahmed Ali U, Coffey JC, Vogel JD, Pokala N, Fazio VW.
Ann Surg. 2012 Sep; 256(3):469-75.