Novel method to link surgical trainee performance data to patient outcomes

Angela E. Thelen, Daniel E. Kendrick, Xilin Chen, John Luckoski, Tanvi Gupta, Hoda Bandeh-Ahmadi, Michael Clark, Brian C. George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: A significant roadblock in surgical education research has been the inability to compare trainee performance to the outcomes of those surgeons after they enter independent practice. We describe the feasibility of an innovative method to link trainee performance data with patient outcomes. Methods: We extracted surgeon NPI numbers from Medicare claims data for common general surgery procedures between 2007 and 2017. Next, American Board of Surgery (ABS) trainee performance data was cross-referenced with additional resources to supplement NPI data. The patient and trainee datasets were linked using NPI number and a linkage rate was calculated. Results: We identified 12,952 unique surgeons in the Medicare file. Medicare surgeons were matched with ABS records by NPI number, with 96.2% (n = 12,460) of surgeons linked successfully. Conclusions: We demonstrated a novel process to link patient outcomes to trainee performance. This innovation can enable future research investigating the relationship between surgical trainee performance and patient outcomes in independent practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1072-1078
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was support by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [ K08HS027653-01A1 ] and the National Institutes of Health [ 5T32DK108740-05 ].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • Graduate medical education
  • Patient outcomes
  • Surgical education
  • Trainee competence

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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