Emergency medical teams (EMTs) have helped to provide surgical care in many recent sudden onset disasters (SODs), especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). General surgical training in Australia has undergone considerable change in recent years, and it is not known whether the new generation of general surgeons is equipped with the broad surgical skills needed to operate as part of EMTs.
To analyze the differences between the procedures performed by contemporary Australian general surgeons during training and the procedures performed by EMTs responding to SODs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
General surgical trainee logbooks between February 2008 and January 2017 were obtained from General Surgeons Australia. Operating theatre logs from EMTs working during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, 2014 typhoon in the Philippines, and 2015 earthquake in Nepal were also obtained. These caseloads were collated and compared.
A total of 1,396,383 procedures were performed by Australian general surgical trainees in the study period. The most common procedure categories were abdominal wall hernia procedures (12.7%), cholecystectomy (11.7%), and specialist colorectal procedures (11.5%). Of note, Caesarean sections, hysterectomy, fracture repair, specialist neurosurgical, and specialist pediatric surgical procedures all made up <1% of procedures each. There were a total of 3,542 procedures recorded in the EMT case logs. The most common procedures were wound debridement (31.5%), other trauma (13.3%), and Caesarean section (12.5%). Specialist colorectal, hepato-pancreaticobiliary, upper gastrointestinal, urological, vascular, neurosurgical, and pediatric surgical procedures all made up <1% each.
Australian general surgical trainees get limited exposure to the obstetric, gynecological, and orthopedic procedures that are common during EMT responses to SODs. However, there is considerable exposure to the soft tissue wound management and abdominal procedures.