Expert Intraoperative Judgment and Decision-Making: Defining the Cognitive Competencies for Safe Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

Amin Madani, Yusuke Watanabe, Liane S. Feldman, Melina C. Vassiliou, Jeffrey S. Barkun, Gerald M. Fried, Rajesh Aggarwal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Background Bile duct injuries from laparoscopic cholecystectomy remain a significant source of morbidity and are often the result of intraoperative errors in perception, judgment, and decision-making. This qualitative study aimed to define and characterize higher-order cognitive competencies required to safely perform a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Study Design Hierarchical and cognitive task analyses for establishing a critical view of safety during laparoscopic cholecystectomy were performed using qualitative methods to map the thoughts and practices that characterize expert performance. Experts with more than 5 years of experience, and who have performed at least 100 laparoscopic cholecystectomies, participated in semi-structured interviews and field observations. Verbal data were transcribed verbatim, supplemented with content from published literature, coded, thematically analyzed using grounded-theory by 2 independent reviewers, and synthesized into a list of items. Results A conceptual framework was created based on 10 interviews with experts, 9 procedures, and 18 literary sources. Experts included 6 minimally invasive surgeons, 2 hepato-pancreatico-biliary surgeons, and 2 acute care general surgeons (median years in practice, 11 [range 8 to 14]). One hundred eight cognitive elements (35 [32%] related to situation awareness, 47 [44%] involving decision-making, and 26 [24%] action-oriented subtasks) and 75 potential errors were identified and categorized into 6 general themes and 14 procedural tasks. Of the 75 potential errors, root causes were mapped to errors in situation awareness (24 [32%]), decision-making (49 [65%]), or either one (61 [81%]). Conclusions This study defines the competencies that are essential to establishing a critical view of safety and avoiding bile duct injuries during laparoscopic cholecystectomy. This framework may serve as the basis for instructional design, assessment tools, and quality-control metrics to prevent injuries and promote a culture of patient safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-940.e8
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 11-2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Expert Intraoperative Judgment and Decision-Making: Defining the Cognitive Competencies for Safe Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this