Home E-Weekly June 13, 2017

Seattle Hospitals Open Up About Overlapping Surgeries

Published: June 12, 2017

LOOKING AHEAD There's concern that surgeons who run several rooms at once might lose focus on the task at hand.

Several hospitals in Seattle, Wash., are attempting to defuse the controversy surrounding overlapping surgeries.

  • Swedish Medical Center is piloting a new informed consent process for neurosurgery that specifically addresses overlapping surgery, with the goal of increasing transparency and ensuring patients understand and feel comfortable with their care.
  • Virginia Mason has developed an informational sheet that patients receive during the surgical consent process. The sheet notes surgeons might not be in the OR during critical portions of procedures, but will be immediately available to return to the room if needed.
  • University of Washington Medicine included information about overlapping surgeries in updated patient consent forms, which note physicians might not be in the OR at all times, but will be present for key and critical portions of procedures.

Guy Hudson, MD, MBA, interim CEO of Swedish Medical Center, says overlapping surgery is a common practice at most teaching hospitals and allows for increased clinical efficiencies. He references studies performed at the Mayo Clinic and at the University of California, San Francisco that offer proof of the practice's safety. Overlapping surgeries accounted for 6% of all procedures performed within the Swedish health system between January 2016 and April 2017, according to Dr. Hudson.

John Corman, MD, medical director of perioperative and procedural services at Virginia Mason, says efforts to come clean about overlapping surgeries were made to ensure patients receive clear and consistent information about the practice and to provide surgical teams with standardized responses to questions patients might pose about their care.

Daniel Cook

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