Intra-operative disruptions, surgeon’s mental workload, and technical performance in a full-scale simulated procedure
We present a unique simulator-based methodology for assessing both technical and nontechnical (cognitive) skills for surgical trainees while immersed in a complete medical simulation environment. Further, we have included two crisis scenarios which allow for the evaluation of the effect of cognitive strategy selection on the low-level surgical skills. Training these mixed-mode scenarios can thereby be evaluated on our platform, allowing for improved assessment and a stronger foundation for credentialing, with the potential to reduce the occurrence of adverse events in the operating room. Scientific evaluation and validation of our work is conducted together with 19 junior surgeons in order to achieve the following goals: 1) to provide a qualitative measure of usability, 2) to assess vertebroplasty technical performance of the surgeon, and 3) to explore the relationship between mental workload and surgical performance during crisis. Our results indicate that: 1) the surgeons scored the face validity of our modeled simulation environment very highly ( 4.68 ±0.48, using a 5-point Likert scale), 2) surgeon training enabled completion of tasks more quickly, and 3) the introduction of crisis scenarios negatively affected the surgeons' objective performance. Taken together, our results underscore the need to develop realistic simulation environments that prepare young residents to respond to emergent events in the operating room.