Defining Proficiency for The Society of Thoracic Surgeons Participants Performing Thoracoscopic Lobectomy.

Parameters defining attainment and maintenance of proficiency in thoracoscopic video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) lobectomy remain unknown. To address this knowledge gap, this study investigated the institutional performance curve for VATS lobectomy by using risk-adjusted cumulative sum (Cusum) analysis.

Using The Society of Thoracic Surgeons General Thoracic Surgery Database, the study investigators identified centers that had performed a total of 30 or more VATS lobectomies. Major morbidity, mortality, and blood transfusion were deemed primary outcomes, with expected incidence derived from risk-adjusted regression models. Acceptable and unacceptable failure rates for outcomes were set a priori according to clinical relevance and informed by regression model output.

Between 2001 and 2016, 24,196 patients underwent VATS lobectomy at 159 centers with a median volume of 103 (range, 30 to 760). Overall rates of operative mortality, major morbidity, and transfusion were 1% (244 of 24,189), 17.1% (4,145 of 24,196), and 4% (975 of 24,196), respectively. Of the highest-volume centers (≥100 cases), 84% (65 of 77) and 82 % (63 of 77) (p = 0.48) were proficient by major morbidity standards by their 50th and 100th cases, respectively. Similarly, 92% (71 of 77) and 90% (69 of 77) (p = 0.41) of centers showed proficiency by transfusion standards by their 50th and 100th cases, respectively. Three performance patterns were observed: (1) initial and sustained proficiency, (2) crossing unacceptability thresholds with subsequent improved performance; and (3) crossing unacceptability thresholds without subsequent improved performance.

VATS lobectomy outcomes have improved with lower mortality and transfusion rates. The majority of high-volume centers demonstrated proficiency after 50 cases; however, maintenance of proficiency is not ensured. Cusum provides a simple yet powerful tool that can trigger internal audits and performance improvement initiatives.

Broderick SR, Brown L, Burfeind WR, Chang AC, DeCamp MM, Edwards MA, Farjah F, Fernandez FG, Gaissert HA, Grogan EL, Kosinski AS, Kozower BD, Magee MJ, Puri V, Raymond DP, Seder CW, Welsh RJ, Wormuth DW

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Ann Thorac Surg, 2019, 107 (1)

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