By: Law Offices of Robert Vaage
A former anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital recently filed
a whistleblower lawsuit over the hospital’s use of concurrent surgeries.
The suit maintains that the policy of allowing surgeons to “double
book” procedures put patients at risk.
Risk of Concurrent Surgeries
As we have previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, the term
“concurrent surgeries” refers to two surgeries led by the
same surgeon at the same time. The practice gained national attention after a
Boston Globe Spotlight investigation revealed that
overlapping or double-booked elective surgeries were frequently performed at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, accounting for 15%
of all procedures.
According to the newspaper, patients were often unaware that their doctors
would be performing concurrent surgeries. The investigation also raised
patient safety concerns with patients under anesthesia for long periods
of time while the surgery team waited for the surgeon to arrive from another
In the wake of the investigation, the American College of Surgeons amended
its guidelines for the practice of concurrent surgeries to highlight the
importance of obtaining patient consent. The Senate Finance Committee
also sent letters to 20 teaching hospitals inquiring about overlapping
procedures at their facilities. While the Committee was encouraged that
many hospitals have amended their policies in light of the
Boston Globe investigation, it called for further measures intended to increase transparency
and patient safety.
Anesthesiologist Files Lawsuit
In her lawsuit, Lisa Wollman, M.D. maintains that at least five MGH orthopedic
surgeons regularly performed concurrent surgeries, which put patient safety
at risk. As
FierceHealthcare.com reports, the suit also alleges that the doctors committed Medicare and Medicaid
fraud by billing for procedures in which they were not in the operating
room for critical parts of the surgery.
“This [concurrent surgeries] often meant an unwitting patient was
left fully anesthetized—unconscious, paralyzed, intubated, dependent
on a ventilator to breathe—for longer than medically necessary,
often in the care of trainees, without the backup of a properly qualified
surgeon, despite legal requirements,’’ the complaint states.
San Diego medical malpractice attorneys, we will be closely following the lawsuit against MGH. We are also hopeful
that the continued media attention spurs additional efforts to prohibit
concurrent surgeries, particularly in cases where critical parts of the
two procedures occur at the same time.
If you or someone you love has suffered serious harm due to a surgical
error, don’t hesitate to contact
a San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage
for a free consultation.