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Double-booking operations can lead to surgical errors

Double booking surgeries, or running two rooms, is a practice used in teaching hospital in Illinois and around the country. A senior attending surgeon often initiates an operation, then assigns parts of the surgery to a fellow or resident. In double booking situations, the senior surgeon then leaves one surgery to start another one in a separate operating room. While an acceptable practice if the attending surgeon is present during certain parts of the operation, it can lead to surgical errors, according to an investigation conducted in another state.

The study revealed that, while proponents of the practice contend that the procedures are safe, there are many issues surrounding concurrent surgeries. In some instances, surgeons could not be found, leaving patients under anesthesia for long time periods. Residents and fellows were left to perform operations with no supervision. Often, patients had no idea they were double-booked and would have refused to sign consent forms had they been aware of the practice.

Those opposed to the practice believe that every patient has the right to the undivided attention of the surgeon. Risk for complications can increase when someone is not completely focused. Some health systems have eliminated the practice altogether, allowing the surgeon to leave only when the process of closing the patient's incision has started. Proponents of the practice believe that, if the procedures are done with appropriate guidelines, it allows a greater number of patients to get care. Many hospitals that allow the practice now require that the consent process include details about potential double booking.

If surgical errors have occurred as a result of operations being double booked, a victim may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit. An Illinois malpractice attorney can help someone evaluate the situation and determine the best way to proceed with litigation. A successful award will help victims with medical expenses, costs of ongoing therapy, lost wages and other suffering and pain.

Source: The Washington Post, "Is your surgeon double-booked?", Sandra G.Boodman, July 10, 2017

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