This past fall, the Boston Globe published a series of stories about a practice known as “concurrent surgery” or “simultaneous surgery,” in which a single surgeon is scheduled to operate on more than one patient at a time. Often, these surgeries result in one patient waiting under anesthesia for a doctor who is simultaneously operating on another patient. According to a survey conducted by the Globe of 47 hospitals across the country, “it is common for surgeons to start a second operation before the first is complete[.]” Many times, the procedures are “deliberately scheduled” to run at the same time. Often patients are never told of the double-booking.
Simultaneous surgeries have been the subject of debate for some time now. Many medical professionals insist the practice is safe and efficient. Others believe it is a violation of the patients’ trust and could lead to unsafe situations. Medicare allows surgeons to bill for concurrent surgeries, but doctors have to be careful: if “critical” procedures are performed by unsupervised students or residents, there could be significant penalties.
The Boston Globe report has apparently opened a dialogue about the practice. Many hospitals and oversight groups are examining their policies to determine if simultaneous surgeries can be performed better.
What do you think about simultaneous surgeries?
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.