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Major and Minor Surgery

Robert G. Small, MD; Richard E. Witt, MD
JAMA. 1965;191(3):180-182. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080030024005.
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This paper will attempt to answer the question "Can operative procedures be classified as `major' or `minor' with any degree of accuracy?" It is often difficult to decide if a given surgical procedure should be listed as major or minor. Because of this difficulty some surgeons feel that these terms should be abandoned. To others, a discussion of major and minor surgery is bound to the question of surgical privileges. The material presented here is not intended for use in determining who should perform major or minor surgery.

The use of the terms "major" and "minor surgery," however inaccurate, is firmly established in the medical profession. One needs only to mention the textbooks available on minor or out-patient surgery and the frequent reference to major surgery in various articles. Enumeration of the major operations performed in a hospital is helpful in evaluation of a service for resident training. The experience


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