Surgical skills test is reliable

September 6, 2007

Microsurgical lab testing is a reliable method for assessing ophthalmology resident's surgical skills.

Microsurgical lab testing is a reliable method for assessing ophthalmology resident's surgical skills, according to a report published online ahead of print by the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Jennifer Taylor from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and colleagues from the University of California and the University of Pennsylvania, USA conducted a study to determine the inter-rate reliability and construct validity of the Eye Surgical Skills Assessment Test (ESSAT).

ESSAT is a laboratory-based surgical skills 'obstacle course' which was developed in response to the need for improved tools for the assessment of surgical skills during residency.

Twenty-seven content experts (programme directors and faculty members involved in resident surgical training) watched videos of junior and senior residents completing the three ESSAT stations (skin suturing, muscle recession and phacoemulsification: wound construction & suturing technique) and filled out assessment forms, task specific checklists and a global rating scale of performance.

ESSAT demonstrated good inter-rate reliability for determining whether residents "passed" each section. In addition, at each station the senior resident was consistently rated above the pass threshold whereas the junior residents were more often rated below.

It is the conclusion of the authors that ESSAT is a useful tool that should be integrated into all residency programmes.