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Old surgeons

February 14, 2012

Less skilled. Maybe wiser

A 57-year-old’s take on this week’s BMJ suggestion (click here) that operating skills deteriorate after age 50.

Older surgeons see trouble coming, modify operations, refer cases to colleagues or decline to operate at all. I do all this, and end up doing easier operations. My enemies say I’ve become timid, kind friends say I’ve got wiser, but honest outsiders must conclude that my complication rates underestimate any deterioration in my technical abilities.

When trainees say: “This one’s easy Prof. You can do it”, we laugh, but they’re not joking!

Jim Thornton

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