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More than 1 in 10 dermatology residents report laser-associated adverse events in training



Laser-associated adverse events are not uncommon – affecting more than 1 in 10 dermatology residents, results from a novel survey demonstrated.

Dr. Daniel J. Bergman of the Mayo Clinic, Arizona

Dr. Daniel J. Bergman

“Incorporating a formal laser safety education curriculum is an opportunity for residency programs and organizations like ASLMS,” study coauthor Daniel J. Bergman, MD, said in an interview in advance of the annual conference of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.

In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, Dr. Bergman and his coauthor Shari A. Ochoa, MD, created an online survey intended to evaluate the safety education and number of adverse laser-associated events that occurred during dermatology residencies in the United States. After the coauthors sought input for content of the survey from dermatology faculty and their colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., they used the Association of Professors of Dermatology email database to distribute the survey to Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)–approved dermatology residency programs. “In general, most studies evaluate the models of education and the number of hours dedicated to learning a skill,” said Dr. Bergman, who is a first-year dermatology resident at the Mayo Clinic. “This study is unique because it identified adverse events experienced by dermatology residents and also evaluated their formal laser safety training.”

To date, 78 dermatology residents have completed responses to the survey. Of these, 10 (13%) identified an adverse event associated with use of a laser. Of those respondents, six respondents knew how to report the event, five felt comfortable operating the laser, three had formal laser safety training, five felt like they understood the risks associated with lasers, and all but one felt properly supervised. One identified plans for postresidency laser training. Of the 68 respondents who have not identified an adverse event, 39 (57%) reported formal laser safety training, and only 24 (35%) indicated that they knew how to report an adverse event.

“I was interested to find that 13% of dermatology residents have already experienced an adverse laser event,” Dr. Bergman said. “I was also surprised to discover that only 54% of all survey respondents identified or recognized formal laser safety training. The ACGME mandates that dermatology residents receive training in the theoretical and practical applications of lasers. This finding may indicate that additional training, focusing on laser safety, should be incorporated more formally into the curriculum at some programs.”

He acknowledged certain limitations of the study, including the relatively small number of respondents and the fact that only ACGME-accredited residencies were asked to participate. “Therefore, we are still missing a large amount of data,” Dr. Bergman said. “Most notably, the results are subject to recall bias and participants defined the nature of an adverse laser event.”

He reported having no financial disclosures.

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