Needing to have surgery can be a very stressful and frightening time. Even a minor operation brings with it some risks. Patients usually put their faith in their surgeon, and believe that surgeon will be entirely focused on them during the operation. This sounds like a perfectly reasonable expectation, however, that may not the case, as one investigation found, revealing that surgeons often have concurrent or overlapping surgeries booked at the same time. And although the patient on the operating table may think his or her surgeon is the only one operating, it is far too common for the surgeon to leave parts of the operation up to a junior surgeon in order to go to another operating suite to work on another patient.
Although the investigation centered around one, world-renowned Massachusetts hospital, the reporters who conducted the investigation surveyed 47 other hospitals nationwide and found this to be a common practice.
In fact, the practice is common enough throughout the country that the American College of Surgeons recently released new guidelines, basically instructing surgeons that they should be telling their patients when they will be involved in overlapping surgeries. Regarding concurrent surgeries, the ACS said that they are absolutely inappropriate and that these surgeries should not be taking place.
One major problem with these guidelines is that they are not legally binding, and many patients will still be left in the dark about what is really going on once they have been put under anesthesia.
The Massachusetts investigation revealed that during 2005 through 2015, there were at least 44 medical issues that arose from concurrent surgeries. One case cited was that of a 45-year-old man who was left paralyzed after spinal surgery. According to the medical malpractice lawsuit the man has filed against the doctor and the hospital, the doctor was performing two operations at the same time. Other incidents included surgeons who did not show up for the operation, surgeons leaving the surgery to a resident or other surgeon to perform, and incidents in which the surgeon had left to attend to another operation when a medical emergency arose with the first patient’s surgery.
If you or someone in your family have been injured by due to possible negligence on the part of the surgeon and/or medical facility, contact a skilled medical malpractice law firm to discuss whether or not you may have a case. For more information about medical malpractice, visit this page.