I left the operating room the other day after finishing a straight forward case. A colleague of mine left his room at the same time and asked how my case went… “fine”.. we accomplished our goal. A well implanted, well aligned, well balanced knee prosthesis. Being the friendly colleague I am, I reciprocated and asked him the same question… “It was successful” Was it? How does he know? Is a successful procedure one that simply accomplishes its goal (implanting a prosthesis, fixing a fractures, etc.) … or as a burgeoning Participatory physician might ask, is the procedure only *successful* after the patient has undergone months of grueling physical therapy and finally comes into the office and thanks me for giving them their mobility back.
Can a surgical or medical procedure be termed a success if the patient did not get better?
If not, then what should we call a well executed, well indicated procedure that did not produce the intended result (typically pain relief)????
There are no procedures with success rates of 100%. Take knee replacments for example. Despite a well performed procedure, only slighlty more than 90% of patients have what I would call a successful result. If they thank me for giving them their legs back, for allowing them to play with their grandchildren, golf or play tennis without pain— then I would term the procedure a success.