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Resident Preparation for Elective OR Cases
Contributed by Mika Sinanan, MD
and his staff at the University of Washington Medical School

When assigned a case in the OR, preparation is a key component to the educational outcome of the case. Here are some suggested steps in preparing for elective OR cases:

  1. Review the patient's history and become familiar with his or her chart. Look for other illnesses and prior surgeries. Be sure to review all relevant operative notes from prior procedures, films, studies, and preoperative records.

  2. Rehearse what you might say to the patient for the operative consent regarding the indications, expected outcome, benefits, and risks of the procedure. This is an important test of your own understanding.

  3. Review the anatomy of the general operative area and in the specific site of the patient.

  4. Review the technical steps of the proposed procedure using surgical reference material. If possible, review operative notes for similar procedures performed by the same attending surgeon. This will provide insight into the operative steps, which of these steps the attending surgeon considers most important, and the areas of emphasis in the operative record for such cases.

  5. Develop a plan, including responses to various contingencies. If at all possible, discuss the case with the attending surgeon after your preparation.

These steps provide a guideline for elective OR case preparation to assist surgical residents maximize learning experiences in the operating room.

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