The U.S. Senate Finance Committee has requested that 20 health care facilities
provide their records regarding concurrent surgeries. The committee is
also asking hospitals to provide information regarding their policies
for informing patients about double-booked procedures.
The practice of concurrent surgeries has come under scrutiny in the wake of a
Boston Globe Spotlight investigation. As previously discussed on this blog, the newspaper reported that
overlapping or double-booked elective surgeries were frequently performed at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, accounting for 15 percent
of all procedures. Equally concerning, patients were not informed that
their surgeon would be performing concurrent procedures, which raises
informed consent issues.
In addition to informed consent concerns, the practice of double booking
surgeries also increases the risk of a surgical error. As detailed by the
Boston Globe, in one double-booked surgery, attending surgeons were unavailable to
provide assistance to less-experienced residents because they were delayed
with another operation. Also concerning, some patients were under anesthesia
for long periods of time while the surgery team waited for the surgeon
to arrive from another procedure.
The Senate committee is looking into how frequently double-booked surgeries
are occurring, as well as if patients are being made aware. "We are
concerned about reports of patients not being informed that they may be
sharing their surgeon with another patient, and we are especially concerned
by reports that, in some cases, steps have been taken to actively conceal
this practice from patients," committee chair Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
stated in the letter.
In addition to the Senate investigation, the American College of Surgeons
is also working to revise concurrent surgery guidelines. Under current
directives, surgeons "should be in the operating suite or the immediate
vicinity for the entire surgical procedure." The guidelines do allow
for several exceptions, but state that patients should be notified of
any concurrent surgeries.
If you or someone you care about has suffered serious harm due to surgical
error or other serious medical mistake, you may be entitled to compensation.
For more information, please contact
a San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage
for a free consultation.