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Risks of Double-Booking Surgeries

Published: May 15, 2019 in Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Wrongful Death

St. Clair County medical malpractice lawyers advocate for victims of surgical complications.Surgical procedures may be necessary to treat many types of medical conditions, but they come with several risks. Proper planning and safety precautions can help minimize these risks and maximize the patient’s chances for success. At many teaching hospitals, however, it has become common practice for surgeons to double-book their time, performing or overseeing procedures in two different rooms at the same time. Most patients do not realize that they are not receiving their surgeon’s full attention.

When a surgeon schedules overlapping procedures, they will typically perform the most crucial parts of the procedures themselves, then allow a junior surgeon to handle the other parts. The lead surgeon will usually have residents or fellows step in when they step out. The surgeries may not overlap for the entirety of the procedure.

Study Reveals Double-Booking is Safe for Most Patients

An extensive study that was recently published brought the practice of double-booking back into the public eye, after an investigation of Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital exposed the practice in 2015. A team comprising of researchers from numerous universities reviewed data from more than 60,000 surgeries involving the knee, hip, spine, brain, or heart. These surgeries were performed at eight different medical centers.

Overall, they did not find a significant difference in the outcomes of patients who had overlapping procedures versus those that did not, but they were able to identify higher risk groups that might be at a disadvantage when their surgeon was not present for the whole procedure. Older patients and those with pre-existing medical conditions were found to have higher rates of complication or death after surgery, as well as patients undergoing a coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

Medicare will cover overlapping procedures if the lead surgeon is present for the most important parts of the procedure, as determined by the surgeon. Advocates for the practice claim that double-booking is a safe and efficient way to maximize surgeons’ time and allow patients to receive treatment sooner. Only certain tasks are delegated to junior surgeons, and those practitioners can still provide an adequate level of care.

Questions and Concerns About Double-Booking

U.S. lawmakers have their concerns, as do many practitioners and patient advocacy groups. An unexpected complication can occur at any time during a surgical procedure, and without expert intervention, the patient may suffer harm.  Patients are often unaware that they are under someone else’s care, which raises ethical questions. It is unclear how many medical centers allow double-booking or require surgeons to inform their patients that another surgeon may participate in the procedure. In some cases, it is only after the patient suffers from a severe complication that they are made aware that these complications can cause permanent damage or even death.

St. Clair County Medical Malpractice Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Advocate for Victims of Surgical Complications

If you or a loved one has suffered due to a surgical complication, the St. Clair County medical malpractice lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC can help. Our knowledgeable, experienced lawyers will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine whether medical negligence was a factor in your injury and obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 618-277-3644 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Swansea, Illinois, we help injured patients throughout Belleville, Carbondale, East St. Louis, Granite City, Edwardsville, Chester, Waterloo, St. Louis, Madison County, St. Clair County, Monroe County, and Randolph County.