IN THE NEWS: DOUBLE-BOOKED DOCTORS CAUSE PERSONAL INJURY TO PATIENTS
When a single doctor is supervising surgery in two (even three?) different operating rooms (at the same time!) – that sounds like a recipe for personal injury lawsuit. Actually, overlapping surgery is a longstanding practice, JAMA Internal Medicine explains, for several very valid reasons:
- to improve hospital resource utilization
- to educate surgical trainees
- to promote access to care for emergency patients
What’s the harm? Studies found that overlapping surgery was associated with increased risk of surgical complications. In a five-year study conducted in Canada, outcomes of hip surgery patients were studied; overlapping hip fracture surgical patients were found to be at higher risk for surgical complications.
At Ramey & Hailey, with more than 40 years’ experience, we know how highly technical and specialized a field medical malpractice is. When victims who have suffered injury after treatment in a hospital turn to us for help, they most likely have no knowledge of double-booking surgeries, believing that they had the undivided attention of their surgeon throughout the process. Was double-booking the “cause” of their injury?
Kaiser Health News shares two important facts about “double-booked” surgeries:
- Hospitals decide whether to allow the practice and are responsible for policing it.
- Medicare billing rules permit double-booking so long as the attending surgeon is present during the critical portion of each operation.
Five years ago, investigations at Massachusetts General Hospital made national news, after a “whistle-blower” was dismissed for publicizing information about double (and triple) booking practices carried on there. Personal injury lawsuits are still being settled today by both that hospital and other major hospital chains.
“All surgeons performing overlapping surgery should get involved with the overlapping surgery policy at their hospital(s). The need for economic productivity, efficiency and teaching must be balanced with the expectations patients have for being the sole focus of the surgeon′s attention,” Alan M. Scarrow of the Mercy Health System in Missouri wrote in a recent white paper.
Here are our thoughts: Often, when victims and family members appeal to our attorneys for help, they have not suspected medical negligence or malpractice until months, sometimes years after it occurred. Our function as lawyers is to assist, to research, to investigate, and ultimately help victims attain the compensation they deserve.