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Does Practice Really Make Perfect?

Christine Laine, MD, MPH, Deputy Editor; and Harold C. Sox, MD, Editor
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Acknowledgments: The authors thank Drs. Paul Epstein, Eliseo Guallar, Russell Localio, and Cynthia Mulrow for their careful review and helpful comments during preparation of this editorial.

Requests for Single Reprints: Customer Service, American College of Physicians, 190 N. Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

Ann Intern Med. 2003;139(8):696-698. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-139-8-200310210-00014
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Surgery is risky. Worries include surgical errors, perioperative complications, difficult recovery, and poor long-term outcomes. Given the high stakes of surgical treatment, where should patients go when they need surgery? Common sense and a growing literature suggest that they should seek surgeons and hospitals that frequently perform the needed procedure. After all, practice makes perfect, doesn't it? Two studies reported in this issue suggest that the answer to this question is considerably more complicated than it appears (12).

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