Senate committee calls for ban on surgeons conducting simultaneous operations image

Boston Globe, December 6, 2016
Jonathan Salzman and Jenn Abelson

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From the article:

A powerful Senate committee wants all hospitals to explicitly ban surgeons from overseeing two simultaneous operations, weighing in on a controversy that has roiled Massachusetts General Hospital and spurred a national debate on patient safety.

The new Finance Committee report, scheduled to be released Tuesday, follows a Spotlight Team series in 2015 on the issue. The committee will urge hospitals to clearly prohibit “concurrent surgeries,’’ which it defined as two operations, managed by the same surgeon, whose critical parts occur at the same time.

The committee also called on hospitals to clarify when it is safe for surgeons to schedule operations that overlap even for a short time. Critics of overlapping surgeries say it is hard for surgeons to divide their attention between two patients and that operations don’t always go as planned.

The federal government already bars surgeons at teaching hospitals from billing Medicare for procedures if the critical parts overlap. But those rules are seldom enforced, and internal critics at hospitals across the United States have cited cases in which surgeons shuttled back and forth between two operating rooms for hours, often without the patients’ knowledge. [...]

The Petrie-Flom Center hosted a panel discussion, "Concurrent Surgeries: Medical, Legal, and Ethical Issues," featuring Boston Globe Spotlight team member Jonathan Salzman in October 2016. Watch the video now! 

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