Should Surgery Residents Receive Pre-operative Skin Preparation Training: An Association of Program Directors in Surgery Survey

Max Shapiro, Alison Smith, Rebecca Schroll, Shauna Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: Surgical site infections (SSI) are a significant source of peri-operative morbidity and a financial burden on the healthcare system. Effective pre-operative skin preparation has been shown to reduce SSI incidence, however studies demonstrated that most healthcare providers do not adhere to proper techniques. Skin prep technique is not taught to U.S. surgical residents in a standardized format. The objective of this study was to perform a survey of U.S. surgical training programs to determine the practice patterns of surgical resident education on the proper techniques of pre-operative antiseptic surgical prep. METHODS: An 18-question anonymous survey was created using the Qualtrics platform. The survey was distributed to members of the Association of Program Directors in Surgery listserv over a 2-month period. Responses were compiled and data analysis was performed. RESULTS: The survey response rate was 30% (n = 85/280). 81% of respondents reported that surgery residents are responsible for performing pre-operative skin prep at their institutions. The same proportion (81%) reported that they feel surgical skin prep techniques are an important component of surgical resident education. However, only 42% reported that their residents are provided formal education regarding proper skin prep techniques and only 6% reported that their residents are required to take a written or practical proficiency exam. 42% of respondents felt that formal skin prep education for residents is likely to affect the rate of surgical site infections. CONCLUSIONS: Surgical residents commonly perform pre-operative skin preparation. However, few residents receive formal education or evaluation of these skills. Given the importance of pre-operative skin preparation in reducing SSIs and the potential for patient harm if performed incorrectly, the results from this study raise the question of whether formal surgical resident education regarding pre-op skin prep should be more widely adopted and standardized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Residency education
  • Surgical site infection
  • Surgical skin preparation
  • Survey
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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