Patients trust their surgeons to perform surgical procedures with undivided attention. After all, having their bodies cut open is a matter of life and death. So, the prevalence of “concurrent or simultaneous surgeries” taking the spotlight in recent years raises safety concerns.
While there are no standardized regulations across medical institutions yet, concurrent surgeries often pertain to operations when a primary surgeon runs two operating rooms with two different patients at the same time. However, multitasking may pose significant dangers to patients.
Recognizing the risks, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) issued statements declaring concurrent surgeries inappropriate, while distinguishing them from “overlapping or sequenced surgeries.” Per ACS, overlapping operations occur when the principal surgeon completes the key or critical portions of the process and leaves the noncritical tasks to a qualified practitioner.
ACS also formed guidelines that require patients’ informed consent and attending surgeons’ urgent reachability for unforeseen circumstances.
But critics insist that preventive measures may not be enough. They call for a total ban as concurrent surgeries persist, especially in medical schools, which may result in severe consequences.
Identifying safety issues during concurrent surgeries
In Ohio, each surgical practitioner must adhere to surgery standards. These surgical rules involve the patient from preoperative diagnosis until postoperative care. If surgeons fail to comply, medical misconduct may happen:
- Junior surgeons operating without senior supervision
- Surgeons issuing Medicare billing for procedures they did not do
- Surgeons failing to transfer from one patient to the next on time, leading to life-threatening injuries, diseases or complications
An example of an ill-timed situation is when patients are under anesthesia longer than they should. Prolonged sedation may cause unsafe levels of blood loss.
On the other hand, advocates argue that concurrent surgeries may aid the medical community in managing the time of highly specialized surgeons. By pairing senior and junior surgeons, those with technical expertise can treat more patients in a shorter time at a lesser cost. Doing so may also maximize the use of operational resources.
Thus, the practice’s safety remains to be a debated discussion.
Paying the price
The price may be far too high when surgeons breach their sworn duty of care and leave their patients in the dark about the surgery. There is just no amount that can make up for any life they are willing to risk. But suppose an injured patient is already in the middle of filing a claim. In that case, they can make their or their loved one’s pain count by asking a counsel for help. This way, the liable party can pay the price for the medical injustice they had to endure.