Patient safety, efficacy remain primary concerns for ophthalmologists.
The informed consent process involves accurate representation of the procedure and sufficient information for the patient to make an educated decision. This includes disclosure of the potential risk and complications of a procedure.The risk may be mitigated, however, by the presence of a mentor.
The surgical learning curve can be steep, with adequate experience gained with fewer cases. It also can be long, with adequate experience requiring more cases.
The system to learn new procedures is one of apprenticeship, with an organized curriculum and abundant resources that include courses, wet labs, and faculty supervision. With proper training, the complication rate associated with trainees, compared to experienced surgeons, is not necessarily higher (Ophthalmology. 1989;96:1225-7).
Following formal training, learning continues with self-study, enlisting a mentor, careful patient selection, and providing a thorough informed consent. In addition, credentialing through a course, private practice, or a university, as well as learning complication management, all adds to the competence of the physician, Dr. Abbott explained.
Finally, when considering a new technology, conflicts of interest, both economic and non-economic, and their impact on decisions should be recognized.
“Recognize and manage factors that potentially influence your recommendations; that is, enthusiasm for superiority of a new method, interest in expanding one’s surgical repertoire, reputational benefits, financial benefits, and possible academic benefits,” Dr. Abbott advised. All of this can help ensure physicians are prepared for virtually anything.
“When incorporating new techniques into practice after residency, there are ethical responsibilities to patients, colleagues, and yourself,” Dr. Abbott concluded. “We take an incremental approach to adopting a new technology.”
Richard L. Abbott, MD
E: [email protected]
Dr. Abbott has no financial interests releveant to this article.