RCS looks to guide surgical innovation

NEW guidance to avoid a "maverick" approach to surgical innovation has been published by the Royal College of Surgeons.

The RCS cites "exciting" developments such as three-dimensional printing, artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology and regenerative medicine, but identifies significant risks in allowing innovation to occur in the "absence of a clear guiding principle".

Mr Peter Lamont, who helped develop the new guidance and is a Royal College of Surgeons Council Member, said: "Surgery is set to be transformed for millions of patients by a new wave of technologies… Historically though, the development of new surgical techniques have often taken place in the absence of the rigour associated with the development of new medicines or devices.

"It is absolutely vital that surgical innovation places both patient safety and the best interests of the patients at the core. The introduction of new technologies or techniques in surgery has no place for the maverick surgeon who proceeds without appropriate peer review or training."

The guidance sets out the clinical governance and oversight needed to introduce innovations and principles for how training should be undertaken. It also covers patient consent requirements and managing potential conflicts of interest – and how new techniques should be translated into wider practice (with requisite training and mentors) and the need for measuring long-term outcomes.