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Video Games May Reduce Surgical Errors

A recent study showed that surgeons who played video games for 20 minutes prior to surgery made fewer mistakes than those who did not.

Researchers at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City studied laparoscopic surgical procedures performed by 303 surgeons participating in a medical training course.

Laparoscopic surgery involves the insertion of a long, slender instrument with a tiny video camera through a small incision and can be used on organs such as the gall bladder, uterus, and the colon.

Doctors participating in the study were evaluated on their execution of the “cobra rope” drill, which is a technique used for sewing up an internal wound. The surgeons who played video games immediately prior to the drill completed the task on average 11 seconds faster than those who did not warm up with video games.

Errors increase the length of time it takes to complete a task, which suggests that those who finished faster committed fewer errors.

The findings of this study support previous research that showed that doctors who grew up playing video games completed similar training drills with greater efficiency and accuracy – indicating that video games sharpened hand-eye coordination, reaction time, and visual skills.

Dr. James Rosser, director of the Advanced Medical Technology Institute at Beth Israel and leader of both studies, said he hopes to provide surgeons with tools and techniques that will help them reduce surgical errors.

Estimates suggest that surgical errors contribute to 100,000 deaths each year in the United States.

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