Getting clearer about surgical innovation

a new definition and a new tool to support responsible practice

Katrina Hutchison*, Wendy Rogers, Anthony Eyers, Mianna Lotz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: This article presents an original definition of surgical innovation and a practical tool for identifying planned innovations. These will support the responsible introduction of surgical innovations. Background: Frameworks developed for the safer introduction of surgical innovations rely upon identifying cases of innovation; oversight cannot occur unless innovations are identified. However, there is no consensus among surgeons about which interventions they consider innovative; existing definitions are vague and impractical. Methods: Using conceptual analysis, this article synthesizes findings from relevant literature, and from qualitative research with surgeons, to develop an original definition of surgical innovation and a tool for prospectively identifying planned surgical innovations. The tool has been developed in light of feedback from health care professionals, surgeons, and policy makers. Results: This definition of innovation distinguishes between variations, introduction of established interventions, and innovations in surgical techniques or use of devices. It can be applied easily and consistently, is sensitive to the key features of innovation (newness and degree of change), is prospective, and focuses on features relevant to safety and evaluation. The accompanying tool is deliberately broad so that appropriate supports may, if necessary, be provided each time that a surgeon does something "new." Conclusions: The definition presented in this article overcomes a number of practical challenges. The definition and tool will be of value in supporting responsible surgical innovation, in particular, through the prospective identification of planned innovations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-954
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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