Are Surgical Residents Prepared for Mass Casualty Incidents?

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21 Scopus citations


Objective: We hypothesized that resident education is inadequate with respect to management of mass casualty incidents that may involve chemical, biological, and nuclear exposures. Methods: Chief level residents in surgery (n = 10), emergency medicine (n = 10), and anesthesia (n = 8) were asked to complete a survey questionnaire. Responses were tabulated and statistically analyzed with Mann-Whitney Rank Sum, Student's t test, and Kruskal-Wallis one-way analysis of variance. Results: All of the residents were similar with respect to age, sex, and intended setting of clinical practice. Only a single resident reported military experience. Two residents (7.1%) had administered medical care while wearing a protective suit. Compared with emergency medicine residents, surgical residents reported significantly less formal teaching in mass casual incidents (P = 0.02), trauma triage (P = 0.01), and nuclear, biological, chemical agents (P = 0.002). When surgical residents were compared with anesthesia residents, there was significantly less training for surgical residents in nuclear, chemical, and biological agents (P = 0.02). Multiple/mass casualty incident experience did not differ between residents. However, the most common incident involved only three to five patients with blunt trauma. Emergency medicine residents were significantly more comfortable in treating patients with exposure to anthrax (P = 0.01), sarin (P = 0.04), and nuclear exposure (P = 0.01). Conclusions: Surgical residents have significantly less formal training in mass casualties, triage, and chemical, biological, and nuclear exposures than residents in other specialties. Therefore, surgical residents are less comfortable treating these types of patients. Because surgeons often are expected to take leadership roles in mass casualty incidents, surgical education should be modified to match or exceed that of other specialties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-91
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2006


  • anesthesia
  • biological
  • chemical
  • emergency medicine
  • mass casualty
  • nuclear
  • resident education
  • surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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