Surgical Device Innovation: Are Surgeons Leading the Field?
Brianna Slatnick1; Paul Truche2; Kyle Wu1,3; Robert Crum1; Alex Yang2, Heung Bae Kim1, Farokh Demehri1
1Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA 2Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 3Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston MA
Introduction: The number of surgical device patent filings has increased over the past 40 years, yet surgeon involvement remains poorly defined. This study aims to quantify the number of patent-holding surgeons and their specialty demographics.
Methods: A query of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was performed from 1993-2018. Surgical patents were identified by CPC code. Inventor names were cross-indexed with the publicly available 2019 list of active Fellows of the American College of Surgeons. Surgeons listed as an inventor on a surgical patent were categorized by specialty. Logistic regression and descriptive analytics were performed to evaluate differences between surgical specialties and gender.
Results: 275,260 surgical patents were filed over the study period. The number of surgical device patents has increased from 4593 per year to 21,241 year from 1993-2018. Only 3.3% of all surgical patents have a surgeon co-inventor. 9008 surgical patents are held by a total of 2164 surgeons. This represents 3.3% of all surgical device patents with a median of 2 patents (range 1-346) per patent holding surgeon. Specialties with the largest number of patent holders include neurosurgery (9%) and orthopedic surgery (8%). 97% of patent holding surgeons are male. Conclusions: There has been an exponential increase in surgical device patents, yet few have included a surgeon inventor. There are significant disparities among the proportion of surgeon patent holders between specialties, and female surgeons are drastically underrepresented. Training in surgical innovation offers an opportunity to reduce these discrepancies and increase surgeon involvement in the device invention process.
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