Systematic Reviews
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2021. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Orthop. Apr 18, 2021; 12(4): 234-245
Published online Apr 18, 2021. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v12.i4.234
Hanging up the surgical cap: Assessing the competence of aging surgeons
Abigail Frazer, Michael Tanzer
Abigail Frazer, Michael Tanzer, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, McGill University, Montreal H3G 1A4, QC, Canada
Author contributions: Both authors made substantial contributions to conception and design of the study, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data.
Conflict-of-interest statement: There is no conflict to disclose.
PRISMA 2009 Checklist statement: The authors have read the PRISMA 2009 Checklist, and the manuscript was prepared and revised according to the PRISMA 2009 Checklist.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Michael Tanzer, FRCS, MD, Doctor, Full Professor, Surgeon, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, McGill University, 1650 Cedar Ave B5159, Montreal H3G 1A4, QC, Canada.
Received: December 24, 2020
Peer-review started: December 25, 2020
First decision: January 18, 2021
Revised: January 28, 2021
Accepted: April 5, 2021
Article in press: April 5, 2021
Published online: April 18, 2021
Research background

The aging surgeon has remained a contentious patient safety issue, as the average age of surgeons continues to rise.

Research motivation

When should an older surgeon stop operating? This becomes an important issue when we consider that the surgical profession is highly dependent on memory, sensory acuity, clinical decisiveness, technical skills and physical stamina; skills and abilities that may decrease with age.

Research objectives

The aim of this scoping review study was to investigate strategies used to determine competency in the industrial workplace that could be transferrable in the assessment of aging surgeons and to identify existing competency.

Research methods

Scoping review.

Research results

Surgeon’s retirement age remains a contentious issue and presently there is no mandatory retirement age for surgeons. Furthermore, we could not find any universal, well-established and accepted policies of testing for competency of aging surgeons.

Research conclusions

A surgeon should not be forced to hang up his/her surgical cap at a predetermined age, but should be able to practice for as long as his/her surgical skills are objectively maintained at the appropriate level of competency.

Research perspectives

More studies need to evaluate the validity and reliability of these simulators for staff surgeons before even considering implementation.