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Resident trainees increase surgical time: a comparison of obstetric and gynaecologic procedures in academic versus community hospitals


Objective — The impact of resident involvement in the operating room for common procedures in obstetrics and gynaecology can shed light on the resource demands of teaching. The objective of this study was to quantify the increased surgical time associated with teaching obstetrics and gynaecology resident trainees across a range of procedures known to require surgical assistance.

Methods — This population-based retrospective cohort study compared surgical duration between academic (teaching) hospitals and community (non-teaching) hospitals. The cohort was made up of adult residents of Ontario between fiscal years 2002 and 2013 who were undergoing commonly performed obstetrics and gynaecologic procedures. The most commonly billed procedures requiring surgical assistance were included: Caesarean section, anterior or posterior repair, anterior and posterior repair, salpingo-oophorectomy, myomectomy, ectopic pregnancy, total or subtotal hysterectomy, vaginal hysterectomy, and laparoscopic hysterectomy. Linked administrative databases held at the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) were used to define patient-, surgeon-, institution-, and procedure-related variables to limit confounding. Surgical duration, determined by anaesthetic billing records, was analyzed using a negative binomial regression.

Results — The total cohort included 337 389 surgical procedures. Of these procedures, 28% (94 203 procedures) were conducted in academic settings. The mean surgical duration of the procedures of interest (excluding vaginal hysterectomy) was significantly longer in academic hospitals compared with community hospitals. With many controls for case variability, this time differential reflects the burden of teaching resident trainees and other learners in the academic environment. The operating time increased between 6% and 20% for cases completed in academic centres versus in the community. As an example, the mean surgical duration of Caesarean sections was 20.6 minutes (19%) longer in academic centres. Furthermore, the data highlighted a trend of increased teaching time for laparoscopic procedures compared with open procedures. The time ratio was the greatest for salpingo-oophortectomy and surgical management of ectopic pregnancies. The additional cost of carrying out these nine procedures in academic centres during the study period was $16.3 million.

Conclusion — The cost of teaching resident trainees is increased operative time. This increased surgical cost in a publicly funded system must be considered as funding models evolve.



McGee J, Winick-Ng J, McClure JA, Penava D, Lovett E, Vinden C, McKeown M. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2020; 42(4):430-8.e2. Epub 2019 Dec 18.

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